Next generation learning allows schools and educators to put students at the center of learning. These innovative, student-centered strategies—such as personalized learning and competency-based education—focus on students’ mastery of knowledge and skills rather than an academic calendar or seat-time requirements. Through next generation learning, states can ensure all students graduate equipped to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
The conventional, one-size-fits-all education system leaves too many students behind. High school graduation rates are at an all-time high, yet hundreds of thousands of students still drop out each year. And those who do graduate, aren’t necessarily ready for the challenges they will face. U.S. college students spend about $1.3 billion annually on remedial courses to master content they should have learned in high school. These realities don’t speak to students’ abilities, but they do reveal that something isn’t right with how traditional K-12 education engages students.
Every student has unique talents and abilities, and every student deserves an education that adapts to their needs. However, most students are asked to conform for 12 years to an outdated model of education.
Next generation learning changes the story. Its suite of strategies equips innovative educators with the flexibility and support they need to meet the needs of each child and empower all students to play a greater role in their learning. Layers of outdated laws, rules and regulations can prohibit this innovation, but states are steadily chipping away at the barriers that prevent schools from personalizing learning to empower each student to reach his or her greatest
Pilot programs support incubation and scaling of new learning models and strategies.
Innovation zones, grants or official innovation school/district designations provide opportunities for schools and districts.
“At Lindsay, we are customizing the ideal learning experience for every one of our learners. Not just the low achievers … but the high achievers. The fifth grader who is ready for high school algebra. At Lindsay, they get it. They don’t have to wait until the year ends or wait until they turn 14 or 15 years old. Because it’s not about the time. It’s not about the adults. It’s not about the convenience of the traditional system that was designed for the industrial age. It’s about the learner and their needs.”
“Working at my own pace helps me achieve my goals because I have total control of the material and the time available to me. If I’m struggling with a class, I can focus specifically on that class for a day and go through the other classes at a faster pace. I also can adjust my pace and go a little faster to make time for work I want to complete.”
Schools are implementing innovative, personalized education models as part of the Idaho Mastery Education Network.
States are administering next generation learning programs.
States have fully authorized the use of demonstration of mastery to issue credit.
The Next Generation Learning policy toolkit to supports states working to prioritize innovation, implement student-centered practices and ensure every student succeeds.
What does next generation learning look like across the nation? How are states promoting mastery-based systems in a seat-time-centric world? ExcelinEd’s research examines the state programs and policies supporting next generation learning and allowing flexibility for seat-time requirements.
Funding for schools is traditionally based on inputs, regardless of how well schools do. But performance funding in K-12 education can incentivize results and open the door to innovative, next generation learning opportunities. The following performance funding materials were prepared with the help of Dr. Larry Miller, the nation’s foremost expert on performance funding in K-12 education, and with the generous support of the Jaquelin Hume Foundation.
ExcelinEd’s seven-part policy brief series, Transitioning to Student-Centered Learning: Policy Solutions for States, identifies issues and offers solutions for states making the change to next generation learning. Explore the policy briefs below for concrete steps states can use to initiate the systemic changes necessary for innovative, student-centered learning.