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Friday, July 14, 2017

Concerns about Personalized Learning

Many have jumped on the personalized-learning bandwagon because of its potential to tailor instruction to each student’s strengths and weaknesses. While the promise—and substantial funding from groups such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—is there, the results aren’t quite livingup to the hype.

A recent RAND Corp. study of 40 K-12 schools found that customized instruction does produce gains in test scores in math and reading, but those gains were just 3% better than average scores in a more traditional school setting. The study also noted students in personalized-learning schools who started the year academically behind did slightly better than their counterparts in traditional programs.

However, there are challenges. Finding time to develop customized lessons for each student was the most significant issue for instructors, who also had trouble finding high-quality digital resources.

“There’s a growing acknowledgement of the reality of how personalized learning actually plays out,” said Benjamin Riley, executive director of Deans for Impact, a nonprofit that focuses on teacher preparation. “Even if it were a good idea, developing a personalized-learning path for every student, in a system that has to educate tens of millions of children, might not be realistic.”

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