Personalized learning pathways—often called multiple pathways or flexible pathways—allow educators to expand learning for students while also addressing their distinct learning needs, interests and career aspirations. Personalized pathways are premised on the idea that learning does not have to occur at the same time every day, be delivered exclusively by teachers or be confined to traditional classrooms. Learning can occur at different times and different places, whether it’s in a school setting, a career and technical education center, a local college, a community-based organization, a workplace or through an online learning application. Student learning may also take place under the guidance of business professionals, trades people, scientists and community leaders who work closely with teachers. When schools embrace proficiency-based learning, students can pursue a wider variety of learning pathways while still meeting high academic standards and their school’s graduation and promotion requirements.
Personalized pathways are also premised on the idea that learning accomplishments should be recognized, rewarded or valued consistently and equally regardless of whether students learn in a school, outside a school or online. One student may learn a concept through reading and researching, while another student learns the same concept through a volunteer experience or internship, and schools can assign the same “value” to both “pathways.” In a proficiency-based learning system, educators place greater emphasis on the products of a learning experience (the evidence students produce to demonstrate they have acquired expected knowledge and skills) than on its process (how or where students learn the skills and knowledge they are expected to learn).
The following resources will help schools design personalized pathways for students:
- Global Best Practices Dimension 2.3. Developed by the Great Schools Partnership for the New England Secondary School Consortium, Global Best Practices is an internationally benchmarked self-assessment tool for secondary schools. Dimension 2.3 addresses personalized pathways.
- Success is the Only Option: Designing Competency-Based Pathways for Next Generation Learning. Published by CompetencyWorks, this report features findings from interviews with educational leaders and site visits to schools that have created successful proficiency-based pathways for students.
- What Are Personalized Learning Pathways? A briefing for New England's education leaders.