Our world is changing—what people need to know and the skills they need to have in the 21st century are dramatically different from what they were in the 20th century. And yet our education system still reflects that 20th century model. We end up preparing students for yesterday’s world, not today’s and not tomorrow’s.
What’s more, we aren’t doing a good enough job of reaching all students in this traditional model. Teachers who are under-resourced are forced to design for the middle, resulting too often in a design that doesn’t fit most students. From this, we see too few students achieve at grade level in Rhode Island and many disengaged with school and their learning: Rhode Island has the highest absentee rate in all of New England. We have great teachers in our state who are differentiating instruction and supporting their students on an individual basis, but they shouldn’t have to do it in spite of the system. They need structural supports and reinforcements to make this work sustainable and scalable. This is where personalized learning comes in.