Personalized Learning and Questions of Equity

Can an education system built around personalized learning produce more equitable outcomes than the current model of schooling? This question has been rattling in my head during the past few weeks as I continue to explore the movement toward personalization, which seems to be gaining at least some momentum in recent years with an increasing number of schools and even states adopting more personalized approaches to education. My current state of residence, Vermont, is fully enmeshed in the personalization movement. In 2013, the state passed Act 77, which aims to provide students in Vermont with multiple and flexible pathways to high school graduation through increased access to work-based and blended learning opportunities, dual enrollment, and early college. It also requires all students in grades 7-12 to have a personalized learning plan (PLP) by the 2018-19 school year. Paired with the state’s Education Quality Standards, which mandates that high schools develop proficiency-based rather than “seat time” graduation requirements by 2020, Act 77 aims to “move[s] Vermont’s public education system to a model based on personalization” (Vermont Agency of Education, n.d., p. 5). Continue reading