When the right conditions are put in place, schools can move beyond pockets of excellence to a truly personalized approach for every student.

10 Essentials for Successfully Scaling Personalized Learning

Scaling personalized learning at the district level may seem like a daunting task, and it is.  But when the right conditions are put in place, schools can move beyond pockets of excellence to a truly personalized approach for every student. Building a vision with district stakeholders and creating a culture of innovation where everyone is encouraged to try new things and learn from failure while ensuring the transparency required for each person to understand their role in pursuing that vision are the foundation for aligning all aspects of the system behind your district’s vision for personalized teaching and learning.

KnowledgeWorks’ 2014 resource, District Conditions for Scale: A Practical Guide to Scaling Personalized Learning, outlines ten critical conditions that must be met for districts to successfully implement personalized learning:

  1. Curriculum must be aligned to the district’s vision for teaching and learning and should be reviewed regularly to ensure alignment. Standards and learning targets should be consistent and easily understood for every student, although the ways in which students meet those standards should be personalized.
  2. Instructional practices should be focused on teaching students how to learn, shifting from a teacher-led to student-led model incorporating. Instruction should be rigorous and relevant to students’ needs and interests, and progression should be based on mastery, rather than seat-time.
  3. Each district should implement a comprehensive assessment system that includes formative, interim, and summative assessments offered multiple times a year – when students are ready to take them – with multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery. Instant feedback from ongoing embedded assessments should be used to monitor student progress and adjust day-to-day learning activities.
  4. Districts should cultivate learning environments, both inside and outside the school walls, that support high expectations for all students while fostering a culture of trust, support, equity, and inclusiveness.
  5. Students should get the supports and interventions they need to be successful when they need them, not after they’ve taken a summative assessment at the end of the year.
  6. Each district should offer a job-embedded professional development program that fosters a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement, leverages technology, and creates a flexible, customized experience for each teacher.
  7. A district should have a leadership development program that identifies and trains leaders at all levels and should involve other staff members in the visioning process, strategic planning, partnership cultivation and curriculum review.
  8. Districts must have a technology policy that allows for ubiquitous, safe access to the internet at all times of the school day. Districts should also address deficiencies in infrastructure in order to support a more connected student population at scale.
  9. Districts should maintain a secure, comprehensive data system consisting of learning management, assessment, and student information systems to track student achievement history, teacher comments, supports, interventions and other indicators.
  10. Each district should cultivate partnerships with business, community, and higher education to create a district vision and strategic plan that is aligned with a broader economic and workforce development plan for the community.

Interested in learning more about how your district can foster the vision, transparency, and culture necessary to successfully implement personalized learning? Download District Conditions for Scale: A Practical Guide for Personalized Learning.Interested in learning more about how your district can foster the vision, transparency, and culture necessary to successfully implement personalized learning? Download District Conditions for Scale: A Practical Guide for Personalized Learning.

Jesse Moyer

Written by: Jesse Moyer

Jesse Moyer is the Senior Director, School Development with KnowledgeWorks. He is a believer in public education working and passionate about family, sports and fishing.

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