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Innovation and Personalized Learning

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

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Most recent reform initiatives — from standards and accountability, to vouchers, to charter schools, to teacher evaluation — do little to change the underlying format of public education or of children’s day-to-day experiences in the classroom. Yet achieving dramatically better results for all students — particularly those facing the greatest challenges — will require fundamentally different and more efficient means of delivering education and engaging students.

Increasingly, schools, districts, and other education organizations are experimenting with new models that change how students access content and tailor learning to individual needs. Personalized learning models, for example, are designed to tailor instruction to a student’s skill level and learning style by using different learning modalities, flexible learning environments, and competency-based progression. These and other innovative models employ technology in new ways and change how teachers work with one another and with students.

Bellwether’s work seeks to identify, learn from, and support the growth of personalized learning and other innovative models. We conduct research to analyze the conditions, including public policy changes, that enable high-quality models to scale. Through our grant-funded field-facing publications, we aim to increase public dialogue around reimagining traditional forms of teaching and learning. We also work directly with schools, districts, charter management organizations, and nonprofit organizations seeking to develop, implement, scale, or evaluate innovative programs to improve student results. Our expertise in other education policy areas — including accountability, teacher evaluation, and charter schools — allows us to incorporate an understanding of broader K-12 trends into the advice we provide our clients.

The content below reflects our work on this issue:


February 2, 2015
Sara Mead, Carolyn Chuong, Caroline Goodson
Over the past 15 years, Teach For America has grown to a scale, and at a pace, that is virtually unprecedented in education and the domestic...
June 24, 2014
Carolyn Chuong, Sara Mead
A new generation of education technology is gaining traction in America’s schools. Yet the most highly touted uses of education technology barely...
May 30, 2014
Andy Smarick
Fifty years ago, President Johnson clearly articulated a collective goal—“to give every citizen an escape from the crushing weight of poverty.” But...
May 15, 2014
Andrew P. Kelly
A Policymaker's Guide to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are a new form of digital learning that has...
October 25, 2012
By Andrew J. Rotherham
Last week the for-profit behemoth University of Phoenix said it would close 115 locations. The move comes on the heels of a late September decision...


August 19, 2019
Reframing learning objectives and outcomes in the geographical, historical and local context of indigenous groups
July 31, 2017
Thoughtfully creating coherent systems of support that enable all students to graduate from high school prepared to enter college or the workforce...
July 20, 2017
Safe spaces reinforce students' worldviews to their educational detriment.