A new study from Education Elements finds that personalized learning programs, in which students typically work at their own pace on laptops or tablets, are leading to growth in math and reading skills, according to Business Insider.
The consulting organization's study of 36,000 students in five districts focuses on performance on the NWEA’s MAP and other assessments, and one Alabama district saw 72% of students in grades 3 through 8 reach their target scores on the ACT Aspire test, up from just 28% in the 2014-15 school year.
The article notes additional research from the RAND Corporation, which suggested that students using online learning programs performed better than those in classrooms where teachers lectured.
The research also cites positive findings on programs such as Newsela and DreamBox, which adjust to students’ skills as they work. School leaders implementing personalized learning initiatives, however, need to take a different approach to traditional instructional models, experts say. Personalized learning, for example, allows students flexibility to master material outside of the regular school calendar and shouldn’t require teachers to be tied to a strict pacing guide, but instead to use formative data to plan instruction.
In fact, the RAND study, funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, noted that there were other factors in place that had an impact on whether students were successful in a personalized learning environment. It found that the longer students worked in a personalized learning environment, the higher their gains were in reading and math. Researchers concluded that “those schools that were awarded the grants to implement personalized learning might be better at teaching their students, regardless of whether personalized learning was implemented.”