Why Our Work Matters
Early adolescence is a time of great transition and great opportunity. Habits formed now are highly likely to become permanent, and studies show that executive function skills are more reliable predictors of success in academics and in life than IQ, test scores or socioeconomic status.
We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has widened the learning gaps for all students, particularly students of color and low-income students, exacerbating pre-existing disparities in access and opportunity. Recent research shows a larger increase in unfinished learning in reading and math for Black and Latinx students , as well as a significant learning loss for socioeconomically disadvantaged students, even as higher income students’ learning actually accelerated.
We believe that these executive functioning skills—including organization, managing distractions, cognitive flexibility, self-regulation, and resilience when something doesn’t go as planned—have long been underemphasized in today’s learning environments. By providing students with these fundamental skills, the Life Navigator program aspires to establish a consistent framework for executive functioning support as a marked step toward equity, access, and opportunity.
¹Adele Diamond and Daphne S. Ling, “Conclusions about interventions, programs, and approaches for improving executive functions that appear justified and those that, despite much hype, do not,” Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 18 (2015): 34-38, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2015.11.005.
²Karyn Lewis, Megan Kuhfeld, Meredith Langi, Scott Peters, and Erin Fahle, “The widening achievement divide during COVID-19,” Center for School and Student Progress, Nov 2022, https://www.nwea.org/uploads/2022/11/CSSP-Brief_Widening-achievement-divide-COVID-19.pdf.