A Personalized Future for Education
When it comes to the shape and style of our schools, not a lot has changed over the past 100 years.
The average American school today looks almost identical to the average American school in the early 1900s – a single teacher delivers a lecture to 30 same-age students in a four-walled classroom; the students sit quietly and listen. The students who learn best by listening will likely comprehend the content, while others, who may learn best by doing, or perhaps at a different pace, will not.
In addition to learning in different ways, students need different amounts of time to learn skills and content. It may take some students five days to master beginning Algebra while others need 200 days to master the content. Our current system operates blindly to these needs, usually giving all students 180 days of learning each year, not one day less or one day more, even if they need it to succeed.
This is why the needs of today’s students cannot be met by a one-size-fits-all approach that prescribes the same type and pace of learning for every child.
In order to prepare all of America’s students for success in a global economy fueled by innovative technology and critical thinking, state policy must shift towards the needs of students.
More specifically, state policy should:
- Require students to demonstrate mastery of content before receiving credit for a course or advancing to the next course;
- Give schools and districts flexibility to implement digital learning practices with their teachers and students;
- Require funding to follow students to the school or course of their choice; and
- Hold online schools and course providers accountable for the performance of their students.
The future of education, and the future of America, depends on a willingness to bid farewell to the 20th century school and welcome, with open arms, the 21st century school, which can personalize learning for every child.