Doing Big Things One Student at a Time

Doing Big Things One Student at a Time

Personalized learning will be the next biggest reform movement in education.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama said, "Nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science." And as education reform continues rapidly under this administration, school district leaders are searching to find the right infrastructure and the data to lead their students in the right direction. Obama continued: "If we take these steps—if we raise expectations for every child and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they're born until the last job they take—we will reach the goal I set two years ago: By the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world."

In recent issues of DA, we've highlighted innovative foreign-language learning programs, one aspect of getting U.S. students up to speed to become ready for the competitive job market. But districts such as the Seattle Public Schools have opened schools modeled entirely on private international schools, with language immersion programs and instruction in subject areas such as "studying human differences and commonalities" and "analyzing economic, technological, social, linguistic and ecological connections" between the United States and the world. Contributing writer Ron Schachter writes about this in "Global Learning Scales Up." Karen Kodama, once a principal at Seattle's first international school and now the city's international education administrator says, "To me, this is the ultimate example of cultural competence—to be able to go out into the world and feel that you are part of it."

Two of this month's other feature stories work hand in hand. "Learning Gets Personal," written by Susan McLester, focuses on what I predict to be the next biggest reform movement in education: the move from what was once called individualized learning to personalized learning, where each student is key. While attending last fall's Software & Information Industry Association Ed Tech Business Forum meeting, I spoke with marketers who all seemed to be creating new products based on this theme. At the same conference, I heard Joel Rose speak. Rose is the founder of New York City's School of One, where student schedules are created on a daily basis, according to a student's progress. "Progress is anonymous, and students experience success, not the constant failure many of them have in the regular classroom," says Rose.

Without data driving things at School of One, the students' "playlists" of instructional strategies and activities would not exist. In "What's Your Data Integration Strategy?," writer Alan Dessoff takes us beyond the conversation of the importance of data collection to how to analyze data properly. As an example, Matthew D. Van Itallie, chief accountability officer in the Baltimore City (Md.) Public Schools, which recently implemented a new student-performance system and data warehouse, says the key is to "collect the right information, translate it through analytics to help make better decisions, and keep asking questions about what is going on in the schools, how much students are learning, and how to support them even more."

Look for more articles on these topics in the future.

Judy

jhartnett@districtadministration.com

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