Make it Personal.

Student-centered learning bases the foundation of the educational program on the interests of the child, the needs of the learner and an understanding of how children learn.

Students advance upon mastery.

The core element of a competency-based approach is that students progress in school when they demonstrate mastery of standards for that level. In a competency-based approach, students progress after demonstrating their ability to apply skills and content to specific tasks.

Why This Recommendation Is Important

By having students progress based on mastery of content and skills, students work at appropriately challenging learning levels. This also means that students do not end up at higher levels without the skills and knowledge to tackle that work.

Actions Needed

  • Advance students to higher-level work upon mastery—not age. Credits are earned based on demonstration of mastery, not seat time.
  • Revise state statutes to allow students to earn credits based on mastery rather than seat time.
  • Develop a variety of assessments or projects that allow students to demonstrate mastery of content and skills.

Develop competency-based pathways based on student interest
and needs.

Why This Recommendation Is Important

Personalization is ubiquitous in today’s world. This is true everywhere—except in education. Personalized instruction is paced to the learning needs of students and tailored to the learning preferences and specific interests of different learners. In a fully personalized learning environment, objectives, content, method and pace may all vary. Furthermore, personalized learning not only requires a shift in the designof schooling, but also depends on leveraging modern technology in support of student learning. Children learn at different rates and thus require different amounts of time to achieve the same learning objectives. Significant learning can and does occur outside of school and extends beyond the school day and year.

Actions Needed

  • Design school buildings to allow for year-round instruction and flexible instructional groupings.
  • Make the school year flexible enough to allow students various amounts of time to achieve proficiency of content and skills.
  • Accept that learning experiences take place outside of school. This means that learning and teaching can occur anytime, anywhere.
  • Make access to school resources available year-round and for an expanded period of time each day.
  • Establish flexible work schedules so teachers can work varied days in the school year and at varied times in the school day.
  • Develop a personalized culture that fosters strong and respectful relationships among children and adults. The culture should allow for complete understanding of children’s cultural and social contexts, and advising them over multiple years.
  • Design curriculum and instruction that encourage children to feel responsible for their own learning and to increasingly be able to assess their own skills and needs.
  • Leverage technology to open up new avenues for child-centered learning.