The U.S. Department of Education’s latest Race to the Top application is out. With a whopping $400m for approximately 20 winning proposals from individual LEAs or consortia of LEAs to implement “personalized learning environments” (described below), this is a huge opportunity for innovative LEAs to drive their agendas forward quickly. Grant awards range from $5-10m for schools serving 2000-5000 students to $30-40m for LEAs serving 25,001+. I think it goes without saying, but this is a lot of money for a concept that LEAs are only just now beginning to embrace.
Absolute Priority 1: Personalized Learning Environments. To meet this priority, an applicant must coherently and comprehensively address how it will build on the core educational assurance areas (as defined in the notice) to create learning environments that are designed to significantly improve learning and teaching through the personalization of strategies, tools, and supports for students and educators that are aligned with college- and career-ready standards (as defined in the notice) or college- and career-ready graduation requirements (as defined in the notice); accelerate student achievement and deepen student learning by meeting the academic needs of each student; increase the effectiveness of educators; expand student access to the most effective educators; decrease achievement gaps across student groups; and increase the rates at which students graduate from high school prepared for college and careers.
If you are interested in applying, you will need to move quickly as the Intent to Apply is due on August 30 and the Application is due October 30. For those of you who decide to apply, I strongly recommend reading at least the following to inform your thinking. The list below is a subset of a larger list of resources on blended and personalized learning that I’ve compiled on this blog.
- Innosight: Classifying K-12 Blended Learning (May 2012)
- Innosight: Moving from inputs to outputs to outcomes (2011)
- Innosight: Cramming Computers: It’s Still the Same Old Story (2011)
- BCG: Unleashing the Potential of Technology in Education (2011)
- Brookings: Using Technology to Personalize Learning and Assess Students in Real Time
- Alex Hernandez (Charter School Growth Fund): Advice for systems interested in blended learning (Jan 2012)
- Mind/Shift: How Will Student Data be Used? (Shared Learning Collaborative) (July 2012)
- Fordham: Education Reform for the Digital Era (April 2012)
- Public Impact: Opportunity Culture (2012)
If you are looking for help with your application, I have compiled a list of both boutique and generalist consulting firms and technical assistance providers that have some background in personalized learning. This list is not comprehensive and is not an endorsement of any of these firms, but it should be a helpful start.