Giving Compass' Take:

• In this story from Education Dive, author Jessica Leigh Brown offers four pieces of advice for districts and schools looking to implement adaptive learning.

• What obstacles prevent schools and districts from attempting to switch to adaptive learning?

• To learn about how AP exam course registration changes have led to new performance highs, click here.

Adaptive learning takes a personalized, often technology-centric approach to education. The tools are new, but the ideas behind them date back at least a century.

“People have been talking about and attempting to do adaptive learning under different names for many years,” says Neal Kingston, an education professor at the University of Kansas. “A lot of the ideas came out of Maria Montessori’s work in the early 1900s.”

The Montessori method gives teachers a variety of learning activities that students can pursue independently, working at their own pace on projects that fit with their preferences and abilities. Today’s trend toward adaptive or personalized learning in the K-12 sphere incorporates many of the same ideas, administering them through computer algorithms to help teachers tailor their approach to students, or to allow students to take assessments that instantly adapt to their level of mastery.

Tailoring the approach to each student in a classroom might sound ideal, but it comes with its own set of challenges. “When you talk to teachers about personalizing education, they imagine having to create 20 or 30 lesson plans,” Kingston says. “Adaptive learning is impossible if every teacher has to invent everything for their kids every day.”

Districts must embrace a fundamental shift in mindset to implement adaptive learning and assessments successfully, starting with a big picture goal and harnessing technology to help them succeed. Here are four best practices for districts transitioning to assessing student progress in an adaptive framework.

  • Establish clear goals
  • Evaluate potential technology issues
  • Prioritize open communication
  • Give teachers the tools they need

Read the full article about adaptive learning by Jessica Leigh Brown at Education Dive