Learning Reform Is a State Issue Now

In a nod to the power that state-level people now wield for pushing education reform, an education reform advocate has issued a report to guide them on how to achieve broad-scale personalized and competency-based learning. iNACOL is a nonprofit that promotes online education in K-12 as part of personalizing learning. Personalized learning, as the organization explained in the report, is an approach for "tailoring learning for each student's strengths, needs and interests — including enabling student voice and choice in what, how, when and where they learn."

The report's authors noted that state policy agendas tend to "change regularly due to the turnover of state leadership," resulting in haphazard efforts to improve education more permanently. The antidote: engaging "stakeholders and groups outside of state leadership, such as education associations, business groups, philanthropic organizations and other stakeholder groups, where turnover is less of an issue." Also important, making sure organizations that are "looking out for marginalized groups" are intrinsic participants in the process.

The new report, "Current to Future State: Issues and Action Steps for State Policy to Support Personalized, Competency-Based Learning," touches on big topics:

  • How to redefine student success, with a focus on the knowledge and skills that students need to succeed in college, career and civic life;
  • Creating qualifications with substance; for example, exploring how a high school diploma could be made more meaningful by engaging students in internships, eportfolio development and personally targeted graduation goals;
  • Rethinking accountability and shifting from compliance to continuous improvement, to meet evolving needs of a "changing society, economy and student populations";
  • Modernizing and aligning educator preparation and leadership development to shift away from traditional "seat-time" learning to the personalized model; and
  • Building the skills for leading change, particularly "to challenge long-held assumptions about education and to inspire others to be a part of the change."

Each topical area includes a list of state "action steps." For example, among the seven action steps for building capacity to lead change, the state needs to kick off the effort by identifying existing leaders in competency-based education and convening a working group to examine training, licensing and certification "issues and barriers" for education leadership.

"The future K-12 education system must empower educators with the knowledge, competencies and dispositions to create student-centered, personalized learning environments," the report asserted. "We are encouraged by the fact that state policymakers have the power and authority to make bold, systemic changes that lead to [their] transformation."

The report is openly available on the iNACOL website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.