Early Progress: Interim Report on Personalized Learning
The RAND Corporation, commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is conducting an ongoing study of schools using personalized learning practices. Personalized learning “is an educational approach in which teachers and schools create systems, tools, and methodologies that tailor instruction to the individual needs, skills, and interests of each student, in an effort to accelerate and deepen learning” (p. 1, from the Executive Summary). In this interim report, initial findings show that students in schools using personalized learning practices are making significantly greater gains in math and reading compared to control groups. The report also discusses next stages of the research, including how future findings should provide insights into how schools using personalized learning practices will impact college- and career-readiness skills.
The findings of this Rand Corporation study on Personalized Learning profiles information relating to school design, student achievement results, and perceptions from enrolled teachers and students. The study involved an analysis of findings from 23 schools compared to a control group. While the study had limitations and the report would have benefited from more information relating to school profiles (in the methodology section), findings were significant and supported further study to ascertain what strategies and practices were having the greatest impact.
The content of the study is useful and provides information that will assist in evaluating and better understanding “personalize learning” and perhaps how to begin to replicate components of this approach. This well-organized report provides an introduction to personalized learning elements and then presents summarized findings and supporting data that are easily noted and understood through charts, tables, and graphs. Its conclusions should be useful for individuals, schools, and districts considering increased attention and focus on personalized learning practices.