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personalized learning

ESSA could offer chance to advance personalized learning


KnowledgeWorks releases guide to help states and districts re-imagine teaching and personalized learning under new federal education law

Amid sluggish education outcomes, increasing need for remedial college coursework and a prevalent job skills gap, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) marks an important point in federal education policy.

During 15 years of No Child Left Behind, education advocates became increasingly frustrated with the level of federal prescription over the vision and design of state education systems. Now, under ESSA, states and school districts have more ownership to advance innovative visions for teaching and learning.

To help state education agencies and local districts consider opportunities in the new law, today KnowledgeWorks released “Recommendations for Advancing Personalized Learning Under the Every Student Succeeds Act,” a guide for imagining and implementing a vision of personalized learning that aligns federal, state and local policies.

Next page: The resource identifies personalized learning opportunities 

“The 391 pages of ESSA are full of opportunities to make personalized learning a reality for every student in the country,” KnowledgeWorks Senior Director of National Policy Lillian Pace said. “Stakeholders should take advantage of these opportunities to carefully consider and re-imagine systems of teaching and learning under the new law.”

The resource identifies opportunities in ESSA to advance personalized learning and offers recommendations for leveraging these opportunities to build high-quality education systems. The guide also asks questions to help state and local education stakeholders build a system that emphasizes college and career readiness, continuous improvement and equity.

“While the opportunities throughout ESSA have incredible potential to help students throughout the country, we must consider equity from the beginning,” KnowledgeWorks President and CEO Judy Peppler said. “If we don’t, there’s a risk of increased achievement gaps for traditionally underserved students. Personalized learning can help close achievement gaps by identifying individual student needs and customizing instruction to ensure every student succeeds. Equity is foundational to the success of this approach.”

Specifically, the guide explores five areas within ESSA that states and districts should consider as they explore personalized learning: accountability, school improvement, assessment, educator workforce and extended learning opportunities. By offering specific discussion questions in a state and local context, the guide will help stakeholders think ahead to ESSA implementation.

KnowledgeWorks also created a side-by-side resource, which compares NCLB and ESSA through a personalized learning lens. This resource was released during South by Southwest’s education sessions (SXSWedu).

“It’s important to start these conversations now, in preparation for high-quality ESSA implementation,” Pace said. “By thinking and planning ahead, states and districts will ensure they take full advantage of the flexibilities ESSA offers.”

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Laura Ascione

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