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  • by Blaine Helwig

What Are "Stop-Gap Resources?"

‘Stop-Gap Resources’ are a moniker that I believe accurately describes their function when used in Title 1 schools or with students struggling academically in non-Title 1 schools. They are designed for both literacy and numeracy to rapidly accelerate elementary students in reading, writing and mathematics to back to grade level. Hence, they directly impact the ‘Achievement Gap’ – or more precisely, the ‘Skill Gap’ from widening – and eventually narrow and eliminate the skill gap altogether.

Why are Stop-Gap Resources Needed?

All curriculum used in our schools was designed for grade level practice. For example, a third grade math book or a basal reader are both curricular resources designed for third graders – with the premise that the child has mastered all the prerequisite skills prior to that grade level. Any educator who has worked in a Title 1 elementary school has first-hand experience that all too often students do not possess math skills or do not read on grade level.

So, what does that all mean?

It means that the typical Title 1 elementary and middle school classroom is an instructional jungle with students possessing scattered mastery of academic grade level skills. Unfortunately, it also presents a pragmatic pedagogical problem for the classroom teacher. The teacher is provided instructional resources for daily core lessons that are largely ineffective due to varying skill level deficiencies with many students in the classroom.

What are the primary characteristics of Stop-Gap Resources?

Stop-Gap Literacy and Numeracy Resources are imperative to heighten student achievement in both urban and rural Title 1 schools. They are effective in non-Title 1 schools for struggling readers in literacy and all students for numeracy development as well. These resources are used in parallel with the district or school adopted grade level curriculum – and foundationally repair the prerequisite skills that kids never learned nor mastered in prior grades. The general characteristics of Stop-Gap Resources are summarized below:

  • Regardless of teaching experience – all teachers are able to effectively implement the resource effectively with fidelity.

  • Pragmatically simple in scope and designed to directly address the rudimentary skill deficiency.

  • A Stop-Gap Resource runs in conjunction and parallel with all grade-level curriculum.

  • All students remain in their current grade level, and they are academically ‘caught-up’ during the school year – the skill gap is closed!

Where are Stop-Gap Resources Located for School Use?

The Stop-Gap Literacy Resources are free. They can be downloaded on the National Blue Ribbon Schools website. Select “Profiled Schools” link – then, “Books and Ballet” link. In each of the three downloadable Stop-Gap Resources, there is a preface that provides instructional implementation and guidelines. These resources and other associated resources are also available for immediate and free download at

The numeracy program is both a daily math fact and skill-based numeracy product designed by grade level for students ranging from first through eighth grade. It is a Formative Loop product, and it is available for free trial use and/or site license purchase. Contact Formative Loop for availability and pricing, if interested.

Both the Stop-Gap Literacy and Numeracy Resources were instrumental in producing two National Blue Ribbon Schools and Profile Schools – in 2012 (Graham Elementary) and 2015 (Blackshear Elementary).

As expected, the resources require consistency, perspiration and academic focus to be effective. However, Title 1 school administrators and teachers are already working hard at their campuses. In this case, stop-gap resources make that work productive by producing heightened academic results regardless of socioeconomic setting.

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