Student-Centered Learning through Early College and Competency-Based Education in Marysville, Ohio

Topics: Early College High School, Education Policy, ESSA

“Personalizing learning is first believing that every child can learn, and that challenges and mistakes are all a part of learning.” – Lynette Lewis, Principal, Navin Elementary

When outlining the essentials of implementing early college and competency-based education, educators from Marysville School District in Marysville, Ohio, encourage school leaders and educators to “push, support, celebrate, and repeat” with their staff. Encouraging teachers and administrators to take risks, providing them the necessary resources and supports when things don’t quite go the way they plan and celebrating when they do were all part of the process – and it’s a delicate cycle.

The district opened their early college three years ago, and began scaling out personalized learning district-wide through competency-based education just this past year. Knowing when to push, when to back off, when to lift up, have been essential to the process.

Beginning the process of implementing early college and personalized learning requires a particular mind shift, as well. Kathy McKinnis, principal of the Marysville Early College High School, asks educators to consider two questions:

  • If we weren’t already doing it this way, is this the way we would start?
  • What do we do just because we’ve always done it?

“Every teacher has said what they would do if they could start their own school,” says McKinnis. And while both McKinnis and Diane Mankins, superintendent with the district, recognize that not everyone who goes into this work will be designing a school from the ground up, they stress the value in thinking about the school you want before making any changes.

For Marysville, it was about putting students at the center of learning, and elevating the relationship-building between students and their teachers, their peers and their community. One of the most powerful stories shared by the team is about graduation, where graduates get to choose who hands them their diploma when they walk across the stage. It doesn’t have to be someone from the high school, but rather, any teacher or administrator that has made an impact on them throughout their years in the district.

“If they can’t pick someone, we’ve failed them,” says McKinnis. But through early college and competency-based education, they’re hoping to meet the needs of each and every student and see them take their first steps toward success when they walk across that stage.

You can read more about how Marysville is empowering teachers to meet the needs of every student in our case study, Personalizing Learning for Students and Teachers in Marysville, Ohio. Interested in learning more about how Marysville is scaling personalized learning district-wide? Download the case study.