Navigating the Tipping Point: Four Resources to Help States Design a Statewide, Student-Centered Learning System

Written by:
Written by: Lillian Pace
Aug. 15, 2019
This guest post comes from Lillian Pace, vice president of policy and advocacy at KnowledgeWorks, a valued partner organization. Views expressed in guest posts are those of the author.

After years of exploration, the United States has reached a critical tipping point in its pursuit of personalized, student-centered approaches to teaching and learning. Thirty-nine states now have waiver or pilot programs that enable districts to advance these next generation learning models, and nearly every state has integrated personalized learning policies into their plans for implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. This tipping point has left many policymakers asking the question, “What would it take to ensure every student has the opportunity to learn in a student-centered education system?”

Over the past six months, KnowledgeWorks set out to answer that very question. Our organization identified policy barriers, studied high-functioning education systems and consulted with practitioners and policy leaders with expertise in personalized learning policy. KnowledgeWorks released the findings in State Policy Framework for Personalized Learning: Designing Education Systems Where Every Student Succeeds and a set of accompanying tools to help policymakers make this shift. These resources walk stakeholders through 12 policy conditions and strategic opportunities for states to consider as they evolve from exploration to statewide implementation of personalized, student-centered education systems.

These resources do not offer a linear approach or one-size-fits-all recommendations. Instead, they support policymakers in designing the future of learning in ways that suit their states’ contexts and their students’ needs. Some of the key resources are listed below.

  • State Policy Framework for Personalized Learning: Designing Education Systems Where Every Student Succeeds
    This framework offers policymakers a comprehensive set of policy conditions to consider as their education systems advance through exploration, replication and statewide transformation of student-centered learning. It suggests goals and offers concrete policy opportunities that stakeholders can leverage to advance policy conversations in their state.
  • Navigating the Future of Learning: Key Considerations for Policymakers
    Based on insights from KnowledgeWorks’ fifth forecast on the future of learning, this resource equips policymakers with the knowledge and skills to lead conversations about future possibilities for learning. As states work to transform their education systems to embrace personalized learning, this guide helps policymakers consider how changes on the horizon could influence state-level visions for student success. It presents future opportunities and challenges along with important discussion questions.
  • Developing Shared Ownership for Personalized Learning
    This resource helps state leaders, including legislators, board members and education agency staff, leverage their unique position to bring stakeholders together to collaborate thoughtfully and design education policies that improve student learning outcomes. It shows how state leaders can shift from notions of traditional stakeholder engagement to building ongoing partnerships and shared ownership for personalized learning systems.
  • Personalized Learning and Policy: Frequently Asked Questions
    This primer answers the most common questions about personalized learning that KnowledgeWorks hears from policymakers. It helps policymakers answer everything from “What is personalized learning?” to “How can state policymakers support personalized learning?”

Statewide policy transformation is challenging and will require deep collaboration among local, state and national stakeholders who share the state’s vision for student success. KnowledgeWorks is deeply committed to helping states design and build systems that align to their preferred futures of learning. With nearly 20 years of experience exploring the future of learning, growing educator impact and working with state and federal policymakers, our team stands ready to help states navigate this exciting moment in education policy. The nation has an opportunity, and an imperative, to move personalized, student-centered approaches to teaching and learning past the tipping point toward statewide transformation.

Author profile

Lillian Pace

Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at KnowledgeWorks

Vice president of policy and advocacy at KnowledgeWorks

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At Education Commission of the States, we believe in the power of learning from experience. Every day, we provide education leaders with unbiased information and opportunities for collaboration. We do this because we know that informed policymakers create better education policy.

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