Personalized learning works! New research shows that student-centered approaches lead to higher math and reading scores

Sanborn Middle School

The RAND Corporation has released the results from a long-term study of the effectiveness of personalized learning efforts.  And they are promising. Practices like project-based learning and competency-based progression, where students advanced to the next topic after mastering the previous one, lead to significant and lasting increases in math and reading scores in their study of 11,000 children in 62 schools.

This is great news for children who struggle in traditional, one-size-fits-all learning environments.  In most cases, students who started the study below the national average for math and reading jumped to above average after the two-year study, with the lowest initial performers seeing the largest gains.

Several components are included in personalized learning environments, including:

  • Systems that deepen and accelerate student learning by tailoring instruction to individuals’ needs;
  • Approaches that offer a variety of learning experiences that prepare students for college and career;
  • Teachers who play an integral role by managing the learning environment, leading instruction and guiding students to take ownership of their learning.

Several New Hampshire schools, including Pittsfield Middle High School and districts participating in the PACE pilot program, are successfully implementing personalized learning practices in their classrooms. Sanborn Regional High School, for instance, uses competency-based grading in their classrooms in a way that not only measures a student’s academic progress, but measure skills that will help them in college and career, like critical thinking and their ability to collect, analyze, and interpret information.

Read The RAND Corporation’s full report here.