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Personalized, Competency-Based Learning for All Kids: The Time to Act is Now

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On my first day as a principal at Lindsay Unified School District in Lindsay, California, one of my former students and his father came into my office. I was still in the middle of unpacking and getting settled in, but I was excited to see him. He’d been an English language learner in my English classes in seventh and eighth grade and it had been years since we’d talked.

I asked him what was going on, what his plans were now that he’d graduated. He seemed anxious, but it wasn’t until his father took a newspaper from my desk and placed it in front of his son, repeatedly asking him to read it, that I realized why. He turned to his father and said, “You know I don’t know how to read.”

I’d had this student for two years. I remembered him being a great kid, a hard worker, but he’d just graduated and we’d failed him. It was in that moment that I recognized as an educator that we just can’t do the same things. We have to think differently about how we support kids.

From Vision to Reality: Personalized, Competency-Based Learning for All Kids is designed to help school districts take steps toward personalized, competency-based learning, and equip leaders with the support to do this critical work.
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At KnowledgeWorks, we believe the bright spark that lies within each child can shine brightly when immersed in a learning culture that values their interests, backgrounds, opportunities and challenges. We also believe in transparency — ensuring that everyone, from students to teachers to families and community members, understand expectations and can see the why and the how behind what students are learning. Because transforming education is not the sole responsibility of our amazing teachers and schools, the inclusion and engagement of community stakeholders is essential to designing learning experiences that prepare all children for individual and community success.

I don’t want any educator to ever feel the way I did in that moment. Our children – not some, not most, but all of our children – are counting on us to deliver on the passion, the enthusiasm and the opportunities they aspire to achieve when they enter our schools. The time to act is now.

Your vision for personalized learning will be your district’s and your community’s vision for the knowledge, skills and characteristics you hope your graduates will possess, what outcomes you hope to improve and what makes your district and your community unique. Our toolkit will help you get started on that vision.