Innovative schools and districts across the country are eager to make the shift to learning environments where instruction is informed by data, aligned to clear standards and customized to meet the needs and interests of learners.
Unfortunately, many schools and districts encounter state-level policies in areas like assessment, accountability, grading, definitions of seat time and graduation requirements that create unnecessary or unintended barriers to implementing a more learner-centered approach in their classrooms.
It’s important to acknowledge that sometimes these barriers are the unintended consequences of well-intended policies aimed at creating quality, accountability and consistency. That’s why the KnowledgeWorks State Policy Framework for Personalized Learning helps states to identify the key policy conditions that are necessary to move personalized, competency-based learning forward. This framework highlights key areas of state policy impacting schools and recommends various strategies that states might use to rethink policy to best support schools and districts implementing personalized, competency-based learning.
The time is now to capitalize on a growing momentum for personalized, competency-based learning. A decade ago, barely half of all states had policies in place that allowed for personalized, competency-based learning. Now, every state does. For example, 17 states have developed graduate profiles, 25 allow for graduation requirements to be satisfied through student-centered assessment options, and 31 states have either innovation schools or zones. And, over the last two years, KnowledgeWorks has tracked hundreds of state-level bills that have been introduced to create the conditions outlined in our state policy framework.
Every stakeholder, including parents, teachers, advocates and community members, must be an active part of the solution and push for the policy flexibilities needed for local innovation to flourish.