Voice from the Industry

Using Assessment-Driven Solutions to Empower the Personalized Learning Classroom

As we find ourselves at the start of a new school year, many of us may still be settling in from the hustle and bustle of summer activities. For some, those last-minute plans may have included a summer road trip. While the destination is ultimately the most rewarding part of a road trip—reading a book by the ocean or fishing on a quiet lake—sometimes the journey to that location makes the trip that much more gratifying.

In planning an approach to a personalized learning classroom this school year, it might help to equate some aspects of it to a summer road trip. For example, much like road construction and detours that pop up on a road trip, the journey to a personalized learning classroom can be a complicated process for educators—one that may include planning roadblocks and implementation speed bumps at times.

But as countless educators who have successfully navigated the road to personalization can attest to, the destination of student mastery is well worth the journey. And just as drivers trust a GPS to get them to their destination, educators are using assessment and instruction solutions to gain reliable insights to inform their approach to personalized learning.

Assessment solutions offer the fastest route

Much too often, the most difficult challenge to successful personalization has been the inability to achieve scale—not being able to extend relevant practices to an entire class, the whole school, or even a school district. However, with the right kind of scalable technology, specifically assessment and instruction solutions, the burden on teachers can be reduced in areas such as:

  • Identifying worthwhile learning resources
  • Compiling and looking at data
  • Planning outside of school hours

Under the individualization aspect of a personalized learning model, some allow students the ability to transition from one unit to the next, or even one class to the next, at varying times. This requires a lot of paperwork and tracking. At Renaissance, we have conducted a series of studies showing that the average teacher spends eight to 10 hours a week planning. Since many teachers are already spending this amount of time outside of school hours on planning, where would the extra hours come from to help them stay on top of a personalized learning approach?

That’s where the right kind of assessment and instruction solution comes in. By pairing assessment results with instructional resources, educators can significantly reduce planning time. If that work were done manually, handling the continual assess-plan-instruct activities of personalized instruction would be nearly impossible.

With more student data available than ever before, teachers are able to see where their students are, how they are progressing, and how they compare to others. Challenging, relevant content can be assigned to students with the click of a button. Without such a solution, personalizing learning would be a huge burden on teachers and take up time that they already don’t have.

A bright future ahead

To fully understand where the technology is headed, we must first reconcile where we are in relation to providing an all-in-one solution to empower personalized learning classrooms. Renaissance is already collaborating with thought-leading instructional providers, offering educators more choices and a seamless journey to personalizing learning for each and every student. This collaboration between instructional providers combines the impacts of individual platforms to provide integrated solutions spanning assessment, planning, instruction, and practice.

Due to the pervasiveness of these best-in-class partnerships across the industry, we’re anticipating an expansive amount of personalized learning solutions available in the years to come. Education technology companies are learning that, in order to be truly successful at helping educators improve student outcomes, we need to work together to provide open ecosystems that offer a 360-degree view of student performance.

These open, flexible environments give teachers access to the key insights they need to provide a personalized learning experience for every student—bringing together assessment, instruction, and learning analytics to drive student growth. Continued collaboration among best-in-class education technology companies will help empower teachers to truly do what they do best—create energizing learning experiences in the classroom.

Personalized learning: It’s about the journey and the destination

While planning your journey to a personalized learning classroom this year, remember: you won’t get there overnight. It takes time and involves a tremendous shift away from how we’re used to thinking about education. It starts with small steps, such as introducing new bits of student data or doing one thing differently in the classroom. Slowly, these methods can help scale personalized learning and make it a reality.


Gene Kerns is Vice President and Chief Academic Officer for Renaissance. He may be reached at Gene.Kerns@renaissance.com.