Making the Case: Compelling Data

This growing library features data points describing the impacts and outcomes of student-centered and competency-based teaching and learning. The data are sourced from research studies, evaluation reports and journal articles, as well as evidence collected directly by classroom, school, district and state leaders.

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    Policy and Advocacy

    State Policies Give Local Student-Centered Flexibility

    A policy scan found many states have reduced barriers, opening possibilities for student-centered learning. At least 31 states allow innovation schools or zones with reduced instructional time and attendance requirements; 18 have personalized, competency-based pilot programs; and 13 have policies allowing alternative instructional time models.

    School and Classroom Culture

    Individualized Professional Development Sparks Change

    Upstream Collaborative is a network of alternative schools in CA and WA working with Big Picture Learning on shifting to a personalized, interest-based approach. In a 2020 qualitative study, all coaches reported listening was key to offer unique advice and build relationships and modeling through individualized PD increased the pace of change.

    Social-Emotional Learning

    Personalized Learning Grows Self-awareness

    A small study found personalized learning promoted self-awareness in middle school students, a key social-emotional learning skill. Learner preference was the most frequently mentioned type of self-awareness in the qualitative data. Students became more aware of topics they were interested in, how they liked to learn and what motivated them.

    Career and Technical Education

    Project-based Learning Builds Creativity and Entrepreneurship Competency

    A qualitative study of a maker program in Hong Kong focused on real-world problem solving found the school's approach led to increases in 4 dimensions of creativity (novelty, utility, aesthetics and authenticity) and 3 areas of entrepreneurship (ideas and opportunities, resources and action).

    Learning and the Brain

    Self-efficacy Impacts Performance

    In a study of 400 German high school students, learners’ expectations of self-efficacy (belief in their ability to succeed), positively predicted their drawing quality and performance in solving real-world geometry problems.

    Curriculum and Instruction

    Personalized Math Program Builds Skills

    In a randomized control study of a supplemental mastery-based personalized math learning program, kindergarten students from 20 California classrooms, in which 100% of students qualified for free and reduced lunch, outperformed the control group on the Test of Early Mathematics Ability by 5.71 percentage points after using the program for 5 hours.

    Learning and the Brain

    Personalized Learning Boosts Scores on State Tests

    A 4-year longitudinal study of a pre-K - 8 California school implementing a strengths-based blended personalized learning model showed a significant positive impact on all Math, Reading and Language Use on NWEA MAP tests. On average, treatment students outperformed the control group by about 1.22 - 1.96 points on the MAP scale.

    Policy and Advocacy

    State Policy in Key Areas Supports Student-centered Reform

    An analysis of student-centered state policy from Education Commission of the States and KnowledgeWorks found 2022 trends included assessments of mastery, funding, learning pathways, equity, flexibility and innovation, and other bills of interest.

    Policy and Advocacy

    New State Policies Support Innovation

    A state policy review showed 20 bills that support flexibilities for local districts or schools to implement competency-based education and other innovations were passed across 15 states as of May 2023.

    Policy and Advocacy

    Graduation Pathway Policies Spark State-wide Personalized Learning

    An analysis of states implementing personalized learning (PL), showed policies around graduation pathways were a catalysts to PL efforts in 3 of the 4 states studied, as they allowed more flexibility in meeting state graduation requirements.

    Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

    Under-credited Youth in Boston Graduate with Personalized Approach

    Students at Boston Day and Evening Academy (BDEA) – a personalized, competency-based school for over-age and under-credited youth – enter at an average age of 17.6 with 5 or fewer high school credits. Despite previous setbacks, students who attend BDEA at least half of the time, finish an average of 5 courses per year and graduate in 2.9 years.

    Curriculum and Instruction

    CT School Increases Latinx Student Enrollment in AP Through Personalized Supports

    Maloney High School saw the number of Latinx students enrolled in advanced courses rise from 50% in 2015-16 to 82.5% in 2020-21. To make this shift, they employed student-centered approaches – including student interest surveys, personalized course recommendations, more communication with families and academic supports like AP study sessions.