A new RAND Corporation study finds personalized learning boosts student scores in math, and charter schools are more conducive to implementing personalized learning programs than traditional schools due to their flexibility.
The RAND Corp study of 40 schools nationwide that are part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Next Generation Learning Challenges’ Breakthrough School Models program follows up on a 2015 report. The intent of examining the 31 charter schools and 9 traditional schools was to examine the implementation of personalized learning in schools. and how it is adopted.
“Early in the exploration of a new idea, I think it makes a lot of sense to try a variety and see what seems to work,” says researcher John Pane. “Without evidence that one particular way is the best way, it makes sense to try different things and adapt and learn from the experience, but it does make it harder to say what [personalized learning] is exactly. At some point, as people want to scale it up, it will be more important to find a more precise model so people know what to do, expect, and implement.” He states that the models of personalized learning varied greatly among the schools, giving him and his colleagues a wider picture of how the implementation varies.
Students gained 3 percentile points in math when engaged in the personalized model compared to similar students. Reading had a similar trend, but was not statistically significant. Increases occurred across all geographic and demographic groups.