Our Blog

CCE staff and partner reflections on our collaborative work to create schools where learning is engaging and rewarding, and every student is set up for success.

Creating a Massachusetts Tipping Point for Personalized Learning

Looking around the education landscape these days, it seems that programs touting personalized learning, blended learning, or student-centered learning are a dime a dozen. My team at CCE is now in our third year of personalized learning work in diverse, low-income, urban public schools.

What we have learned distinguishes our work from others in the field are three key beliefs:

  • that personalized learning requires developing and elevating student agency,
  • that blended learning--and the general use of technology--are not synonymous, and technology is just a small piece of the puzzle
  • that it is crucial for personalized learning to operate within an ecosystem that builds capacity of students, teachers, school leaders, families, and communities.

Here at CCE, we are also proud of the intersection between our personalized learning work and our organizational commitment to educational equity. In our personalized learning work, this manifests through our rich professional development curriculum and coaching around cultural relevance and the weaving of equity-minded practices through each of our five principles of personalized learning and five systems of support.

Pln Wheel New 01

The five principles of personalized learning

As defined by CCE, personalized learning tailors the educational experience for every student by embracing individual strengths, needs, interests, and culture, and elevating student voice and choice to raise engagement and achievement. Personalized learning must also take place within the context of educational equity, providing culturally responsive learning environments and equitable educational opportunities for all students. Our framework, existing within the sustainable infrastructure named above, is supported by the intersections of our five principles of personalized learning and our three infrastructure foci.

Principles of Essential Personalized Learning

Competency-based Learning. In competency-based schools, students move at their optimal learning pace and receive credit when they demonstrate mastery of competencies—or learning targets—at each new level.

Flexible Learning. Time, space, and teacher roles adapt to the needs of students through the use of technology and flexible structures, rather than being a fixed, "one size fits all" experience.

Student-drive Learning. Students exercise voice and choice in their learning and co-create personal academic profiles and learning plans focused on student interests, aspirations, and learning challenges.

Dispositions for Learning. With a focus on equity, identity, and concern for others, students develop the attitudes and habits necessary for academic growth and preparation for life in a global society.

Authentic Learning. Students engage in workplace, project-, and community-based learning, with multiple opportunities to demonstrate what they know and are able to do.

Systems of Support

In addition to the above principles, we ensure that schools that we coach capably approach the design process with an eye on the following focus areas: Leadership, Professional Learning, Autonomies, Technology, and Family & Community Engagement.

Why "Essential" Personalized Learning?

There has been a shifting definition of personalized learning over the past few years. At CCE, we understand the importance of our version—Essential Personal Learning—because it focuses on the essential lynchpins required to personalize the student experience for equity and excellence. Our model places decision making as close to the students as possible, and is built on a seamless stream of communication between students, teachers, school leaders, and families.


Blog Post

A Time for Intentional Inclusivity in Our Public Schools

October 19, 2016
Our public schools are a microcosm of the larger society around us. Too often, we as educators try to fend off the outside chatter and focus on the academic work at hand. Dan discusses the important role educators place in creating a counter-narrative to what many of our students are experiencing every day in the world around them, as well as a safe space for them to talk about and make sense of these experiences.
Blog Post

Building Faculty Support for Making the Shift to Personalized, Proficiency-based Learning

When schools or districts decide to take the plunge and shift to a learner-centered, proficiency-based system, one of the key “must-haves” is the support of the faculty. So how to do you garner the support of faculty effectively? Matt and Courtney share three ways to help the process along.
Blog Post

Creating Equitable and Curiosity-Filled Classrooms through Students’ Questions

April 18, 2017
"Educators are able to design the QFT flexibly to address their specific teaching and learning goals for units and lessons while carving out space for students to drive the learning process."