More than a decade ago, Regional School Unit 2 (RSU2) school district in central Maine began implementing a personalized, student-centered model. For its first year, RSU2 functioned within the current policy structures that exist in most states, which set age and time requirements for learners. The following year, the Maine Legislature passed the Maine Proficiency Diploma, which aligned learning to locally-defined competencies, further supporting RSU2’s model.
“Measuring student success and grade level is outdated,” said Virgel Hammonds, former RSU2 superintendent and KnowledgeWorks Chief Learning Officer. “At RSU2, we were able to work within an outdated system for the first year to create personalized learning for students. But policymakers need to realize that they can create flexibility to help more districts build highly personalized systems. Learning communities, in turn, will run with it to create systems that benefit all children.”
To advance this new learning model throughout the country, other districts may need help in overcoming old-school policy barriers, such as mandatory time requirements and end-of-year, high stakes state testing.
Today, KnowledgeWorks, with financial support from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF), released A State Policy Framework for Scaling Personalized Learning©, which outlines the policy conditions needed to build and scale more flexible learning environments.
“Education stakeholders agree that the key to preparing all learners for college and career is a personalized education that is tailored to meet the needs of every student,” said Matt Williams, KnowledgeWorks Vice President of Policy. “States and districts must work together to remove antiquated policy barriers so districts can successfully build personalized learning models.”
Building off the previously released District Conditions for Scale: A Practical Guide to Scaling Personalized Learning, the framework was developed with insight and feedback from school districts, state education agencies, policymakers and education organizations that are focused on scaling personalized learning across districts. KnowledgeWorks gathered its initial research based on expertise in the field, created a prototype based on the outcomes and then vetted the prototype with experts from throughout the country. Feedback was then incorporated into the final framework, to ensure quality and viability.
It ensures the policy recommendations are closely aligned with the 10 district conditions needed to successfully scale personalized learning, including aligned curriculum, comprehensive assessment systems, professional development, student supports, technology and data policies.
“By adopting this state policy framework, states and districts will be empowered to overcome barriers of a system that was designed for a time that has long since passed,” KnowledgeWorks President and CEO Judy Peppler said. “Only then will we be able to ensure every student can experience meaningful personalized learning that enables him or her to succeed.”