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The Role of Comprehensive Data Systems in Personalized Learning

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2017-01-20 08:00

To learn more about how the district conditions for scaling personalized learning  impacts teachers’ practice, KnowledgeWorks interviewed teachers from across the country as they talked about their experiences.  This research culminated in “The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.”

One of those conditions, comprehensive data systems, is defined as:

Districts should maintain a comprehensive data system consisting of learning management, assessment, and student information systems. These systems should be able to track student achievement history, teacher comments, supports and interventions, and other indicators while protecting student-level privacy.

The cornerstone of personalized learning is teachers’ ability to use data from assessments and other learning activities to guide and shift instruction to meet the leads of every learner. In order to do this, teachers (and parents and students) should have continuous access to a comprehensive data system that includes a complete, longitudinal picture of a learner’s achievement. Connecting fragmented data systems districts are currently using is key to leveraging data when implementing personalized learning. Additionally, ensuring that teachers have proper training that prepares them to not only use the data systems but interpret the data in order to customize their teaching.

Education Sector offered five design principles for data systems:

  1. Learners are at the center
  2. Information flows across institutions
  3. Usefulness
and usability drive adoption
  4. systems are common yet open
  5. Users can access the right data

As one practitioner told us:

“What’s really been different is the level of collaboration and sorting. We use data to know which child is ready for what and when and to create the right environment. The time I use for planning now involves a lot of data. It’s been awesome. It’s really powerful to understand student learning on a minute-by-minute level. I was never faced with this before. It’s a significant new component to our job.”

 Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’For more on comprehensive data systems in a personalized learning environment, including interview excerpts and school and district examples, read ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.

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What Every Student Deserves

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2017-01-19 08:00

When Diane Mankins became superintendent of Marysville School District in Marysville, Ohio, she wanted to be sure that the district was serving every student well – not just most students, not “all students,” but meeting the needs of each and every child who entered their schools.

How to make that happen? Personalized learning.

Mankins believes that every child deserves “a sense of hope, a sense of belonging, and a sense of high academic achievement.” Though the district is early in their journey of implementing personalized learning through competency-based education, they’re well on their way to making this a reality.

You can read more about how Marysville is empowering teachers to meet the needs of every student in our case study, Personalizing Learning for Students and Teachers in Marysville, Ohio.You can read more about how Marysville is empowering teachers to meet the needs of every student in our case study, Personalizing Learning for Students and Teachers in Marysville, Ohio.

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Sign Up for the Imagine FutureEd Student Design Challenge

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2017-01-17 16:00

Discussions about the future of learning often leave out one crucial perspective: young people themselves. To highlight youth voices on this important topic, KnowledgeWorks will be hosting a student design competition, Imagine FutureEd. Starting today, anyone who is interested in taking part can sign up via the competition website.

Open to anyone aged 13-18 who is based in the U.S., Imagine FutureEd will invite participants to submit written scenarios describing possible futures of learning. A scenario is a story about the future that is grounded in changes happening today. Participants will also have the option of producing an accompanying artifact from the future, or an image illustrating an object from their scenarios.

Youth participants can work on their own or with the support of an adult facilitator, who may be a teacher, an after-school program facilitator, a museum educator, a homeschooling guide, or anyone else who works with young people. KnowledgeWorks and our partner, Teach the Future, will supply five custom activities and supporting materials to guide the creation of submissions that are informed by changes on the horizon. The full set of activities is estimated to take approximately 2.5 hours. Participants can select from or modify them as needed or can take another approach to creating competition submissions.

The Imagine FutureEd competition will officially be open from February 20 through March 27, with materials available in late January. For now, anyone who is interested can visit the competition website to sign up to receive updates and full competition materials when they are released.

Three scenarios and three artifacts from the future will be selected as winning submissions, with specific prizes for the students creating them and the supporting adults to be announced shortly. KnowledgeWorks also plans to publish most entries in a back-to-school look book in the fall of 2017.

We look forward to seeing many ways of imagining what #FutureEd might look like. Again, we encourage you to sign up to learn more and to spread the word about the competition to others!

Student voice is an important but underrepresented perspective on the future of learning. We hope that the Imagine FutureEd competition will help bring it to the fore.

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Looking Back: The Obama Administration and Education

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2017-01-17 08:00

As President Obama wraps up his eight years in office, it’s important to take an opportunity to look at his Administration’s impact on education. I want to take time to look at both the success and the missed opportunities as I think both are informative for education policy going forward.

Investing in Innovation

Out of the gate, President Obama, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) linked education to national economic recovery and development. This was an important step from not only a practical policy perspective but also from a messaging standpoint. This functionally broke down into two buckets of funding. First the supplemental funding and expansion of Title I-A funds (for example) designed to assist states in fully funding education during the economic downturn as well as making sure that the most vulnerable populations within our public schools were fully supported. The other funding bucket focused on propelling the education system forward through innovation. Most prominently through investing in educational technology, Race to the Top (RTTT) and Investing in Innovation (i3).

RTTT, a state-focused program, gave significant funding to states to reshape their systems of education by focusing on standards and assessment, teachers and leaders (evaluation and PD), and innovation. RTTT was, at its core, a great idea. Invest in states to develop more innovative, responsive systems. The implementation became part of the issue and one that would frame the way the Administration thought about policy and the way the field reacted to the Administration’s policies.

RTTT became a prescriptive exercise of compliance and uniformity. Innovation was sacrificed for micromanagement and states playing follow the leader. RTTT could have become a state driven response with each state assessing their own assets and opportunities and coming up with varied and innovative approaches. Were their innovative ideas that came out of RTTT? Of course, but there could have been more. Too many states, with the Department’s urging, followed the lead of the first states funded. RTTT, for all of its fanfare, was in the end a missed opportunity.

Moving Towards Higher Standards

Tied to RTTT, was the Administration inserting itself into the Common Core movement. As a reminder, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were created by members of CCSSO and the NGA. It was developed by the states for the states as a way to raise standards for all students, to help defray some of the cost of developing standards (not cheap), and allow for more common, comparable students’ data. The Administration, through the RTTT application, jumped into the fray and strongly encouraged (some would say mandated) that states adopt the newly created CCSS. In the end, the Administration saw a good idea and jumped on the band-wagon. In doing so, an already political process (all national movements are inherently political) became hyper political and ultimately doomed the movement. That said, as a result of the CCSS, all states in the Union have higher standards (whether they are common or not) and that is a very good thing.

Advancing Innovation in Our Lowest Performing Schools

Through ARRA and continued appropriations, the Administration advanced innovation through the i3 program and a renewed focus on turning around our lowest-performing schools through School Improvement Grants (SIG). These programs, which have their issues, fundamentally played an important role. i3 allowed public school districts and non-profits to lead efforts to innovate our education system. The expressed focus on innovation and the fact that our system of education is outmoded and outdated was an important step for the Administration and the education field in general. We needed, and continue to need, a more focused approach to research and development in education.

The Administration’s focus on the lowest-performing schools in the country was both right and admirable. For far too long, far too many students went to schools that chronically struggled to meet their needs. The focus was admirable and should be continued into the new Administration. That said, the four models (transformation, turnaround, restart and closure) were cumbersome and reeked of one-size-fits-all. The results of the SIG program are mixed as well.

Waivers and Increased Flexibility

One of the most significant moves by the Obama Administration came in September of 2011. The Administration, in a Rose Garden Ceremony, announced it would offer waivers to states to allow them to opt out of provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The Secretary began to build his argument (pursuant to the authority in section 9401 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965), for increased flexibility for states and outlining NCLB as barrier to the transition to “college-and career-ready standards and assessments; developing systems of differentiated recognition, accountability, and support; and evaluating and supporting teacher and principal effectiveness.”

Setting aside that waivers are a slippery slope, the Administration, once again, was too prescriptive in its implementation of the waivers. The waivers locked in many of the policies first advanced in RTTT but did not allow for the true flexibility for states to create a new, nimbler system of education. Case in point, the state of New Hampshire needed a “waiver to the waiver” to implement its competency-based system. Waivers could have been a launch pad for innovation and allow states to truly build new systems of education but like RTTT it was a missed opportunity.

Bold Ideas, Hits and Misses

Overall, the Obama Administration’s policies around education were a mixed bag of hits and misses. To be fair, the Administration made some big bets, put forth bold ideas, and created new vehicles that provide a playbook for future Administrations. As often is the case the ideas, intentions, and right-minded motivation sometimes missed the mark in implementation and burdensome regulations. The President and the Secretaries provided unprecedented support for transforming our nation’s lowest performing schools, invested in innovation, examined ways to provide states new flexibilities, invested in teachers and leaders and standards and assessments. They leave the next Administration the building blocks to transform our nation’s education system in strong partnership with states and local districts.

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One person CAN make a difference!

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2017-01-13 12:38

At the beginning of the school year, teacher Laura Lou Delehanty challenged her Woodlawn High School Early College students to increase their ACT reading average by four points over the course of the year.

She set the challenge and her students accepted. #WoodlawnHighSchool @BhamCitySchools
Click To Tweet

They took the baseline ACT practice test to set the bar in August. Sounds simple enough, right?

Today’s news, though, is worth a celebration for the teacher and the students. After the mid-year assessment using a different released ACT practice test, one class already met their yearly goal and the others are making huge growth.

Here are their results by class:

  • Grade 9 = 2.1 point increase
  • Grade 9 = 3.6 point increase
  • Grade 10 = 3.7 point increase
  • Grade 10 = 5.5 point increase
  • Grade 11 = 1.5 point increase

Note: Due to college schedules, teacher doesn’t have daily contact with all 11th grade students.

Overall class average increase:  3.3 point increase.

So how did they do it? Perseverance and grit, and a teacher with a plan!

Each week, Delehanty provides assignments that enable students to increase their fluency and comprehension in painless ways. During first semester, students completed an ACT reading with 4 ACT questions on Fridays. Daily, students did reciprocal reading to improve their fluency, comprehension, and higher order thinking. Weekly, every student read a current event article and wrote a 250-word response about the article – not just the who, what, when, and where, but why the article mattered.

Delehanty wants to continue pushing her kids toward success.

This semester students will also practice beating the ACT clock. Weekly, they will read a 750-900 word ACT passage and answer the 7-10 questions . . . within eight minutes!

Sound tough?  No way! These students believe they can succeed and are taking the challenge!

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Establish a Priority for Federal Grants Focused on Personalized Learning

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2017-01-12 08:00

KnowledgeWorks recently released our presidential transition memo, Embracing the Opportunity: Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration. In the memo, we offer a set of recommendations for the new administration on how to create high-quality, personalized learning environments that ensure every learner is successful and prepared for their future with college, career, and civic life.

A national movement focused on creating flexible, customized education systems is gaining ground. Our experience meeting and spending time with some of the top practitioners in that movement has led to our focus on personalized learning organizationally. In fact, our definition of personalized learning, one that we recommend the new administration use moving forward, emerged from extensive research we performed with schools, districts, and states implementing personalized learning. That definition is as follows.

Personalized learning requires:

  • Instruction that is aligned to rigorous college-and career-ready standards and the social and emotional skills students need to be successful in college and career.
  • Instruction that is individualized, allowing each student to design learning experiences aligned to his or her interests.
  • The pace of instruction to vary based on individual student needs allowing students to accelerate or take additional time based on their level of mastery.
  • Educators to use data from formative assessments and student feedback in real time to differentiate instruction and provide robust supports and interventions so every student remains on track to graduation.
  • Students to have access to clear, transferable learning objectives so they understand what is expected for mastery and advancement.

A dedicated investment in personalized learning shows commitment to closing achievement gaps and ensuring all students succeed. The new Administration can invest in and expand high-quality personalized learning systems by establishing a priority for discretionary grant programs focused on personalized learning as defined above. Discretionary programs, or competitive grant programs, encourage states, regions, and communities to work together to develop a compelling vision and sustainable strategy for education.

Dedicated funding for personalized learning will help communities mobilize around a shared strategy, with the potential to radically improve the long-term effectiveness of our education system. It will also help districts invest in the start-up tools and training to establish personalized learning, such as developing comprehensive data systems that provide students, teachers, and parents access to real-time data that track multiple indicators and encourage appropriate supports for student success.

It is important for the federal government to support districts and states that are serious about scaling personalized learning with grants that help establish a sustainable model for education. These innovators are building a compelling vision for reform, but continue to struggle with the start-up costs to bring their vision to reality. Discretionary funding dedicated to personalized learning can help ease these barriers and allow for truly sustainable education transformation.

 Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration."In our transition memo to the new Presidential Administration, Embracing the Opportunity: Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration, we offer a set of recommendations for leveraging national momentum to create a flexible, customized education system where every learner succeeds. Read the complete memo to learn more.

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Cultivating Interconnections for Vibrant Learning Ecosystems

Posts from WOL - Wed, 2017-01-11 14:12

Learning ecosystems are expanding and are rapidly becoming more diverse and more personalized. As part of this expansion:

  • Competency-based education is spreading
  • New forms of school are proliferating in place-based, virtual, and blended settings
  • The boundaries between school- and community-based learning are melding
  • Learning playlists are gaining sway as a means of organizing all or part of students’ learning journeys.

Where might following this trajectory put us in ten years? A critical uncertainty is whether we will exercise the transformative leadership necessary to create vibrant learning ecosystems or whether we will let too many areas’ learning ecosystems devolve into fractured landscapes. This critical question centers on the extent of our commitment to equity.

Using an Ecosystem Approach to Extend Possibilities for Learners

In “Cultivating Interconnections for Vibrant and Equitable Learning Ecosystems,” Jason Swanson, Andrea Saveri, and I defined vibrant future learning ecosystems as being learner centered, equitable, modular and interoperable, and resilient. We adapted a framework from the Deloitte Center for the Edge to imagine how education stakeholders might foster interconnections across diverse contributions reflecting three structural roles to design vibrant future learning ecosystems. The three structural roles are listed below.

  • Concentration — Providers of core infrastructure, aggregation, and brokering services create process efficiencies through scale.
  • Fragmentation — Creative niche specialists target user needs and customize services.
  • Catalyzation — Connectors mobilize cross-boundary initiatives, bridge ecosystem gaps, and forge shared goals.

Their prototypes of ecosystem designs included a cluster of six learners working with an adult facilitator to create a business and learn from mentors across a city and personalized interest-based projects in which learners collaborated with members of a rural community to create real impact while connecting to other learners through a broad thematic area of study (in this case, food).At the 2017 International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI) conference, I had the opportunity to engage a group of educators in exploring how taking such an ecosystem approach could help meet learners’ needs in high-need geographies such as poor urban neighborhoods, disrupted suburbs, poor rural communities, and incarcerated settings. Their prototypes of ecosystem designs included a cluster of six learners working with an adult facilitator to create a business and learn from mentors across a city and personalized interest-based projects in which learners collaborated with members of a rural community to create real impact while connecting to other learners through a broad thematic area of study (in this case, food).

Nine Principles for Applying an Ecosystems Approach to Practice

Participants’ prototypes and our discussion of the resulting insights highlighted nine principles for applying an ecosystems approach to practice:

  • Prioritize relationships when considering future approaches to learning
  • Make available a range of structures, either within or beyond a school district, so that students have access to the settings in which they learn best
  • Involve whole communities as learning resources and as part of the learning landscape
  • Include adults with expertise beyond education as mentors, collaborators, and teachers
  • Take an asset-based approach when co-designing learning pathways and projects that meet students’ needs, reflect their interests and goals, and engage communities’ strengths
  • Minimize bureaucracy in enabling learners to move across structural boundaries as suits their learning
  • Establish flexible funding streams that enable learners to access the ideal experiences and supports
  • Consider ways of using new tools and practices to enable more personalized learning, either directly or by achieving efficiencies that free up resources for new approaches
  • Assign equivalent value to real-world application and academic learning.

Applying These Ideas to Your Context

These are far-reaching principles, and it can be hard to imagine how to shift from today’s focus on school systems to a future emphasis on learning ecosystems. Several KnowledgeWorks resources can help you grapple with that challenge:

As you consider how you might foster ecosystem interconnections toward vibrant learning ecosystems, what possibilities do you see for learning in 2017?

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Woodlawn High School Graduate to Be an Ambassador for Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2017-01-10 08:00

Jarrell Jordan, a 2015 graduate of Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Alabama, is joining 72 other people from across the United States to serve as a liaison between Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the White House and the Department of Education. These ambassadors for HBCUs will be included on discussions about funding, business partnerships and more.

Jordan, who is currently a sophomore at Morehouse University, “was recently asked to participate with the FBI’s Citizen’s Academy and to work with the Department of Justice and Homeland Security to make sure HBCU students have access to government jobs after graduating,” reported The Birmingham Times.

In that story, Jordan told the newspaper that he was interested in helping foster business partnerships and expand future job opportunities for graduates of HBCUs.

When he was in high school, Jordan attended the Business and Fine Arts Academy at Woodlawn High School during the first year students were able to attend early college.

“Jarrell’s senior year of high school was the first year we implemented early college at Woodlawn High School,” said Roslyn Valentine, KnowledgeWorks Technical Assistance Coach. “He attended the Academy of Business and Finance and was in the first class of students who earned college credit at Lawson State Community College while still in high school.”

In 2015, Jordan was one of two Birmingham students to be awarded the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarships, which are paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and administered by the United Negro College Fund

Trey Hawkins & Jarrell Jordan, our 2 Gates Millennium Scholars, are No. 1 & No. 5 at Woodlawn High. pic.twitter.com/6DAIRSGZ8d

— BhamCitySchools (@BhamCitySchools) April 20, 2015

“He was a shining star,” said Robin Kanaan, Director of Teaching and Learning for KnowledgeWorks. “We were fortunate to have him speak at a Summer Institute for Birmingham City Schools teachers and watched him be an ambassador for the Academy of Business and Finance. I’m excited to see what’s next for him as he acts for an ambassador for a new, equally deserving organization.”

Learn more about Jarrell Jordan, his plans for the future and his role as an HBCE ambassador.

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The Role of Partnerships in Personalized Learning

Posts from WOL - Mon, 2017-01-09 08:00

To learn more about how the district conditions for scaling personalized learning  impacts teachers’ practice, KnowledgeWorks interviewed teachers from across the country as they talked about their experiences. This research culminated in “The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.”

One of those conditions, partnerships, is defined as:

Districts should cultivate partnerships with business, community, and higher education constituents in their communities (including local and county government, recreation, juvenile justice, faith-based, etc.). These entities should be involved in creating a district vision and strategic plan that is aligned with a broader economic and workforce development plan for the community. All aspects of teaching and learning within the district (curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional development, etc.) should be aligned to this vision. In addition, these partners should assist with creating various learning opportunities (internships, mentor programs, work-based experiences, service learning, etc.) and publish a list of these opportunities for all learners.

Connecting learning that happens in the classroom with learning that happens in the community can be a powerful tool to scaling personalized learning. In addition to increasing engagement of learners and others in the learning community, partnerships can drive life-long learning for all students. Effective partnerships are based on students’ interests and, when leveraged fully, can narrow the divide between schools and the community while promoting transparency and strong communication with all stakeholders. As districts begin to build partnerships with the community, the district’s vision should be top of mind. Specifically, partners should be involved in creating, measuring progress towards, and refining the vision.

As one practitioner told us, “We’re seeing folks from around the world who come and have great things to say. It’s great to have the recognition and feedback, and it’s a good way to look at learning differently. On the flip side, we still haven’t arrived. We visit other sites quite often.”

 Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’For more on partnerships in a personalized learning environment, including interview excerpts and school and district examples, read ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.

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Our Federal Financial Aid System Needs to Reflect the Realities of Today’s Postsecondary Learner

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2017-01-06 08:00

As a team we have been diving into our transition memo, Embracing the Opportunity: Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration, to explore our four sets of recommendations designed to outline the federal role in scaling personalized learning. When examining personalized learning policy three major themes emerge.

  1. More times than not it is about less policy rather than more policy.
  2. Flexibility is a key component in advancing personalized learning and that flexibility should be pushed down to the level closest to the students and teachers (e.g. to the district and school level).
  3. Some of the new policy is really about modernizing old policies.

The incoming Administration should modernize the federal financial aid system to reflect the realities of today’s postsecondary learner. The current system distributes aid to students based on the number of hours they attend class or the number of credit hours in which they are enrolled. Traditional 12 credit-a-semester, full-time enrollment in postsecondary education is no longer the norm as individuals increasingly seek access to postsecondary opportunities as early as middle or high school, while working and raising a family, or later in life as part of a career change. We recommend an overhaul of the Federal financial aid system to ensure it is more flexible, better able to address changing career requirements (for an emerging and incumbent workforce), and reflective of the nation’s increasing interest in personalized education.

A federal strategy to modernize the federal financial aid system should begin with an effort to scale the following concepts through implementation of the Higher Education Act. The new Administration will need to identify the right policy approach for bringing these to scale to ensure that students, institutions, and providers get the best result from the federal investment.

  • Dual Enrollment—Low-income high school students enrolled in postsecondary coursework through a dual enrollment or early college high school program should be able to earn Federal Pell Grants upon completion of postsecondary credit.
  • Competency Education—Students should be able to access Title IV financial aid for enrollment in IHEs with a self-paced competency education
  • Innovative Education Model—Students should be able to access Title IV financial aid for enrollment in postsecondary institutions that are partnering with non-traditional providers to deliver an innovative educational program.

KnowledgeWorks would like to partner with the incoming Trump Administration to identify strategies that will make the federal financial aid system more flexible while ensuring necessary protections against mismanagement and abuse. As we innovate our K-12 educational system, we must also examine the transition spaces into higher education and how the system supports all learners by personalizing supports and options. This isn’t just an educational recommendation because making the financial aid system nimbler directly impacts the viability of our workforce and our economy.

 Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration."In our transition memo to the new Presidential Administration, Embracing the Opportunity: Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration, we offer a set of recommendations for leveraging national momentum to create a flexible, customized education system where every learner succeeds. Read the complete memo to learn more.

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Explore How K-12 Schools Can Shape the Future of Learning

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2017-01-05 08:00

The future of learning can seem big and far away from schools’ day-to-day realities. Yet we at KnowledgeWorks firmly believe in the power and the responsibility of people working in and with K-12 schools to shape the future of learning.

To help educators consider what opportunities on the horizon for learning might mean for them and their students, a new workbook provides an interactive way of considering how small adjustments and bold choices could lead the way toward a future of learning that serves all learners and society well.

Shaping the Future of Learning: A K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook” invites you to explore:

  • Five present-day opportunity areas that could positively impact the future of learning in ten years
  • Strategies for taking action in response to those opportunities
  • Examples of work being done by education innovators today
  • Key questions to help you reflect on your current practice and work with others to consider what you might do differently in the future.

In some of the present-day innovations highlighted in the workbook:

  • Amy Anderson of ReSchool Colorado describes that new education system’s approach to emergent learner-centered design
  • Jean Garrity speaks to the Institute for Personalized Learning at CESA #1’s focus on helping educators and learners develop agency
  • Russ Altenburg of ReFrame Labs underscores the importance of grounding systems change in equity by building schools within communities rather than for them.

Their stories emphasize the power of bold visions to improve learning for today’s students while transforming education systems to meet future needs. This complex work takes all of us. We see every educator as a leader who can collaborate with others to shape the future of learning.

As one K-12 leader observed during a workshop that contributed to the development of the strategies featured in the workbook, “There is great hope and opportunity in reinventing schools.” That hard and rewarding work can start with you.

 K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook helps educators to reflect on their own practices and future aspirations.

To consider the future of learning in your community, download our latest resource, Shaping the Future of Learning: K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook.

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Embracing the Opportunity: Scaling Personalized Learning

Posts from WOL - Wed, 2017-01-04 08:00

As my colleague Lillian Pace wrote in a previous post, “the new Administration has an incredible opportunity to leverage as it considers a strategy for transforming the nation’s K-12 and higher education systems.”

One of the key challenges in transforming the nation’s education system is scaling best practices. As we noted in our State Policy Framework for Scaling Personalized Learning, innovative learning environments, broadly speaking, are stuck in pilot phase, providing great learning opportunities for “those students” in “that classroom” with “that teacher.” In order to truly transform our system, we must move student-centered learning beyond the pilot phase. The Trump Administration can facilitate this by offering state and local education systems the flexibility to innovate and the resources to pursue their vision of personalized learning while providing the national leadership to help them replicate effective strategies at scale.

Any federal strategy for scaling personalized learning should include the following components: assessment, accountability, school improvement, the educator workforce, extended learning opportunities, and research and development. As states begin to development their plans to implement the new Every Student Succeeds Act, the new Administration should help states leverage the significant flexibility across the law to pursue their vision of personalized learning for every student. Specifically, the Administration should issue non-regulatory guidance on the following topics:

  • Cross-cutting Guidance on Building Personalized Learning Systems. States and districts can benefit from guidance on how to leverage flexibility in ESSA around accountability, assessment, teacher credentials, and title funding to build personalized learning systems.
  • Strategies for Leveraging the Direct Student Services Opportunity to Support At-Risk Students. States can benefit from guidance on how to use the optional direct student services reservation to expand access to rigorous, personalized learning experiences for at-risk students.
  • Guidance on Early College High School and Dual and Concurrent Enrollment Provisions. States and districts can benefit from guidance on how to leverage flexibility across ESSA to increase student access to high quality early college high school and dual and concurrent enrollment programs including through accountability and reporting, access to federal funding, and professional development.

KnowledgeWorks stands ready to work with the new Administration to assist states and districts working towards their vision of high quality, personalized learning experiences that result in every student thriving in college, career, and civic life.

 Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration."Read more about KnowledgeWorks’ recommendations for the incoming Administration, you can find our entire transition memo, Embracing the Opportunity: Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration.

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Make a New Year’s Resolution for the Future of Learning

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2017-01-03 08:00

Whether you make a New Year’s resolution this year or not, your actions in the coming year have the potential to change the shape of the future of learning. Educators, administrators, and students are increasingly driven to personalize learning, and the desire to make meaningful connections between what we’re teaching and learning to what matters most to us is only going to grow in 2017.

In our latest resource, Shaping the Future of Learning: K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook, we invite you to consider how even the smallest steps you may take could make a big impact. We outline future needs, and provide the space for reflection on what you’re doing today, and what you might do differently in the immediate future.

How do you know what’s working for students today? How might your district better capture student voice?

What opportunities do students have to take their learning into the community? How could you recognize student contribution outside the classroom?

What organizational changes do you wish you could try if you had the time and permission?

How does your school or district currently involve multiple perspectives in decision making?

When you consider what you want for your school, for your students, your vision for an ideal graduate in your community, don’t underestimate your own influence. What could you resolve to do in 2017 to change the outcome for learning in 2025?

 K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook helps educators to reflect on their own practices and future aspirations.To consider these questions and more, download our latest resource, Shaping the Future of Learning: K-12 School-Based Education Strategy Workbook.

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Learning Illuminated

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2016-12-23 08:00

Strands of multi-colored lights cover Marysville Early College High School, illuminating the night. Over 6,000 lights dance to “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid, choreographed by students during a semester-long project.

“Our Christmas light show project has really taught me how to work with certain software, IP locations and networks, because we’re programming all these lights to work together,” said Robert Moots, a junior at Marysville Early College High School. “I have learned so much about coding and I think this entire experience has made me smarter and able to handle large tasks.”

Moots and six classmates worked on the project as part of a new Winter Magic capstone project with their teacher, Justin Rigsby. The project was a natural fit for these IT students, who learned the basics of circuit boards and coding in earlier classes.

The project also meets all learning standards from the Ohio Department of Education.

“It’s touching all the ODE standards, maybe not in a conventional way, but in a very fun, practical way,” Rigsby said. “You always get kids asking, ‘why are we doing this’ or ‘is this something I’ll ever use?’ Now these students get to see the skills they learned in other classes and put them to use.”

Most importantly, the Winter Magic project has been completely student-driven, allowing space for teamwork, creativity and learner agency.

“At its core, this is a student project,” Rigsby said. “From day one, they’ve planned it. I told them right from the start that we need to come together to teach each other what we learn. They had to figure out how it worked as a team. This was wholeheartedly their project from start to finish.”

The show will be automated from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the holiday.

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The Role of Leadership Development in Personalized Learning

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2016-12-20 08:00

To learn more about how the work of scaling personalized learning impacts teachers’ practice, KnowledgeWorks listened to teachers from across the country as they talked about their experiences. This research culminated in “The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.”

One of those conditions, leadership development, is defined as:

A district should have a leadership development program that identifies and trains leaders at the classroom, school, and district level. This includes involving educators and other staff members in the visioning process, strategic planning, partnership cultivation, and curriculum review.

At its core, leadership development in a personalized learning system is about creating a pipeline of sustainable leaders capable of sustaining the transformation to a personalized learning system. The first step in any development program is identifying those worthy of the time, resources, and money required to cultivate emerging leaders. Many of those who spoke to us put emphasis on developing leaders at the school, rather than district, level in order to ensure that they are familiar and compatible with the schools and learning environments where they will work. Strong leadership programs provide an array of development opportunities including within the classroom, across teams, and even as school leaders or upper-level district administration.

As one practitioner told us, “Another big piece has been to flatten leadership. We’re in this together and building leadership for every teacher.”

 Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’For more on supporting emerging leaders in a personalized learning environment, including interview excerpts and school and district examples, read ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.

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Education Inspired: Personalizing learning in Kenowa Hills, Michigan

Posts from WOL - Mon, 2016-12-19 08:00

Kenowa Hills Public Schools’ vision towards personal mastery and competency-based education is amplified through their STEM Academy. The Knights STEM Academy approach provides real-world experiences that link academic achievement and future success.

Watch how Kenowa Hills is personalizing learning through their STEM Academy:

Learn more about the KnowledgeWorks approach to competency-based education.

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Five Attributes of the Future of Learning

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2016-12-16 08:00

As we enter the emerging era of partners in code described in KnowledgeWorks’ fourth comprehensive forecast on the future of learning, we are just beginning to develop new uses for and new relationships with machines that are increasingly wearable, connected, and smart. If you use a Fitbit to monitor your health or use your car’s smart safety system to help avert accidents, you’ll have a flavor of what these new partnerships mean today.

Looking ahead ten years, education faces some critical questions:

  • How might education help people prepare for an increasingly automated and taskified world of work – and prepare over and over again over their lifetimes?
  • How might educational structures diversify to help achieve resilience and provide more learner-centered education?
  • Might we use new tools and understandings of human performance to create greater focus on individual development in education?
  • How might education support individuals and communities in responding to volatile conditions in positive ways?

The graphic recording below illustrates these and other possibilities for the future of education raised during a conversation that Tom Vander Ark and I led at the National Council of State Legislators’ September gathering of education committee chairs, “Innovation in an ESSA Era.”

This graphic recording illustrates these and other possibilities for the future of education raised during a conversation that Tom Vander Ark and I led at the National Council of State Legislators’ September gathering of education committee chairs, “Innovation in an ESSA Era.”View a larger version of the image.

Key among them, the conversation highlighted five attributes for the future of learning. It needs to be:

  1. Personalized
  2. Competency-based
  3. Project- and place-based
  4. Focused on both soft skills and work-specific skills
  5. Oriented around whole person development across a lifetime

In creating approaches to education that are both flexible and grounded and which incorporate these attributes, the conversation emphasized, we need to be guided by clear visions. Otherwise, we won’t know what success looks like at an individual, school, or systems level, and we risk letting ourselves be so buffeted by change that we end up somewhere other than we intended.

What do you want the future of education to look like? Do these attributes resonate? Would you add to this list or take anything away?

For more on the convening, see Tom Vander Ark’s recap, “Leading Personalized Learning: State Policy Advice & Successes.”

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Looking Beyond High School Graduation Rates to Understand College and Career Readiness

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2016-12-15 08:00

Every fall for the past few years, the K-12 education community has celebrated an exciting accomplishment: growing national graduation rates. In fact, data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that from the 2010-2011 school year to the 2013-2014 school year, graduation rates have increased across all subgroups, and both the black-white and Hispanic-white achievement gaps have decreased.[1] While a significant accomplishment that is undoubtedly worth of celebration, the nation’s education community must look at data beyond high school graduation rates to understand the full picture of college and career readiness.

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) studies projections of workforce needs over the next few years, including required education levels. In 2020, CEW predicts that 65% of all jobs in the United States will require some amount of postsecondary education, up from 59% in 2010.[2] We can celebrate high school graduation rates as an indicator of better prepared students, but this data suggests that postsecondary attainment must be considered alongside high school graduation rates to determine true preparedness for next steps.

Unfortunately, the celebrated increased high school graduation rates does not take into account the reality of students enrolling in remedial courses or student attrition in higher education. When students arrive at their postsecondary institution without the needed knowledge and skills to enroll in college-level classes, they are placed in remedial classes. While they cost the same as other credits, remedial credits do not count towards graduation requirements. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), low-income, Hispanic, and African-American students are more likely to need remediation than white students, placing a heavier financial burden on groups that traditionally must overcome greater challenges in progressing through the education system. Additionally, enrolling in remediation courses increases a student’s likelihood of dropping out of college, with debt and few credits counting towards a degree.[3]

Remediation poses an obvious risk to a student’s ability to progress through postsecondary education in pursuit of joining the workforce. Just how serious is this risk? Using Colorado as an example, in 2005, remediation rates ranged from 22.2% for students in four-year institutions to 60.1% for students in two-year institutions.[4] The exact percentages vary across states, but Colorado’s rates are not out of the ordinary. There is an urgent need to create better linkages between secondary and postsecondary education to resolve this remediation crisis. High school graduation rates are only one step towards college and career and must be accompanied supports and structures that will allow for students to make the transition to higher education without needing to face the threats that come with remediation.

Remediation rates are not the only byproduct of disconnected secondary and postsecondary education systems. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), for first-time, full-time students enrolling in college in fall 2008 and seeking a bachelor’s degree, six-year graduation rates ranged from 36% at the least selective schools to 89% at the most selective schools.[5] While this particular report from NCES did not disaggregate the data to understand differences based on race, family income, or first-generation status, trends across other data sets make it reasonable to draw the conclusion that these percentages are even lower for low-income students and students of color. Improving the connections between secondary and postsecondary education is not just about preparing students for the workforce, it is also critical to increasing equity in higher education and, eventually, the workforce.

By looking at our future workforce needs alongside the implications of high remediation rates and low six-year college graduation rates, a significant amount of work needs to be done before high school graduation rates can be an indicator for future success. In addition to programs that support first-generation college students find success in higher education, systemic and structural work needs to be done to create better alignment between high school and postsecondary education. To prepare students for future workforce needs, K-12 and postsecondary education must seek systemic alignment that creates clear pathways for students to find success in their education in pursuit of their career goals.

 Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration."In our transition memo to the new Presidential Administration, Embracing the Opportunity: Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration, we offer a set of recommendations for leveraging national momentum to create a flexible, customized education system where every learner succeeds. One of those recommendations is: “Incentivize effective transitions between K–12 and higher education to increase college enrollment and persistence.” Read the complete memo to learn more.

[1] United States Department of Education. 2015. U.S. Graduation Rate Hits New Record High. http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-high-school-graduation-rate-hits-new-record-high-0

[2] Carnevale, Anthony P., Nicole Smith, and Jeff Strohl. 2013. Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020. Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce. https://cew.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Recovery2020.FR_.Web_.pdf

[3] National Conference of State Legislatures. Hot Topics in Higher Education: Reforming Remedial Education. Accessed December 5, 2016. http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/improving-college-completion-reforming-remedial.aspx

[4] Colorado Department of Higher Education. 2016. 2015 Legislative Report on Remedial Education.

[5] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. 2016. The Condition of Education 2016.

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Creating a Culture of Success, for All Students

Posts from WOL - Wed, 2016-12-14 08:00

For a wide variety of reasons, all too many young people fall behind or drop out of school well before completing the requirements for graduation, not to mention lacking the readiness for a meaningful job, career, or postsecondary training. As “America’s Public Schools Should be More Focused on Achievement, not Prison” vividly demonstrates, these young people are far more likely than their peers to end up in the criminal justice system. But that doesn’t have to be the end of the story.

Great schools such as the Boston Day & Evening Academy are deeply committed to insuring successful outcomes for students who have not succeeded in traditional school environments. The formula is not overly complicated — it’s simply good, student-centered educational practices implemented deeply by caring, skilled adults.

In Ohio, KnowledgeWorks is supporting and partnering with five school districts who are committed to fundamentally transforming and dramatically improving the educational experiences and outcomes of their “alternative” schools and programs. Core strategies include:

  • Comprehensive intake and assessment process that takes into account all of the student’s needs and leads to the creation of a personalized road map to completion and readiness for life after high school
  • Robust and targeted student supports and interventions to address students’ non-academic issues that impede attendance and learning
  • Competency-based learning framework that rewards and promotes students for mastery while accommodating varying learning styles and paces
  • Clear, relevant pathways to career and/or postsecondary pursuits

These strategies combined with talented, caring educators and leaders combine to create the kind of culture needed to ensure that every student succeeds, regardless of his/her past failures. The goal is high school completion with academic and social readiness that will catapult these young people into their chosen future goals. Anything less is unacceptable.

Learn more about KnowledgeWorks in schools.

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