Tools for State and District Leaders: Personalized Learning Case Studies

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Middle school students work at their own pace in iPrep Math classrooms in Miami-Dade County. (Photo courtesy of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools)

More than 100 exemplary school superintendents will convene at the White House today, November 19th, for the ConnectED to the Future Summit. As part of the President’s ConnectED Initiative, these leaders have committed to advancing technology-enabled instruction in their districts. The Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) supports several of these districts’ efforts to use technology to personalize and enhance student learning. OII is pleased to release a report that highlights some of these districts’ initial experiences, which is intended to serve as a resource for school leaders pursuing a path to personalizing student learning.

Personalized Learning in Progress: Case Studies of Four Race to the Top-District Grantees’ Early Implementation shares the experiences of four diverse school districts as they adopt personalized learning approaches that will prepare their students to succeed in the 21st century global economy. The four districts — Iredell-Statesville Schools (N.C.), Miami-Dade County Public Schools (Fla.), New Haven Unified School District (Calif.), and Metropolitan School District of Warren Township (Ind.) — are highlighted in part because of their diversity, including the range in geographies, size of student populations, differing academic content areas, and their varied approaches to personalized learning.

The Race to the Top – District (RTT-D) program supports bold, locally directed improvements in learning and teaching that will directly improve student achievement. RTT-D districts serve as innovation laboratories, advancing new ways to educate our students.

While each of the districts’ plans is unique, there are common elements for which the study’s researchers captured insights about their implementation. All of them, for example, have employed most or all of the following strategies:

  • Enhancing technology to engage students and to allow anytime, anywhere learning
  • Shifting teachers’ roles to support student-centered learning
  • Renovating physical spaces to better meet students’ learning needs
  • Using data and assessments to inform instruction
  • Emphasizing learning college- and career-ready skills
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Warren Township students experience increased engagement and collaboration as a result of the school district’s adoption of personalized learning approaches. (Photo courtesy of Metropolitan School District of Warren Township)

The case studies share the thinking, planning, and actions taken by each district, captured by addressing three questions: What are the grantees’ approaches to personalized learning? What actions did they take in the early stages of implementation? What realities did they encounter as they implemented their ideas and plans? The report concludes with a set of considerations for districts interested in assessing their readiness for a transition to personalized learning environments.

Click here to read and download Personalized Learning in Progress: Case Studies of Four Race to the Top-District Grantees’ Early Implementation. A second round of site visits to the four districts is scheduled later this school year, which will be captured in a future report and serve as an additional source of practical insights, research findings, and promising practices.