Back to Resource Center

Bridging the Gap: Approaches to personalized learning

Two approaches to meeting student needs through personalized learning and standards-aligned instruction

These case studies provide two instructive examples of schools navigating the complexities of integrating personalized learning with rigorous, grade-level instruction.

At first glance, personalized learning and grade-level, standards-aligned instruction may seem at odds. Each requires specific training, structures, and instructional practices to be successful. However, we believe there is space for both models within a school building; and we have school partners that are doing the work to implement both successfully.

So, how do we combine the two? How can both work in concert? The following case studies highlight the key steps schools made to prioritize both models. Providing students with a personalized approach to learning, without sacrificing access to rigorous instruction. It’s challenging, but it’s possible, and we’re learning from schools doing the work. 

The need

Students across the country are continually falling below grade-level expectations, and of those students, the data show that students of color, English language learners, and students from low-income households are disproportionately represented. Meeting students’ individual needs so they can meet grade-level expectations is an issue of equity. 

The response

To help students reach grade-level expectations, more and more schools have introduced “personalized learning” strategies into their school building. iNACOL defines personalized learning as: “Tailoring learning for each student’s strengths, needs and interests—including enabling student voice and choice in what, how, when and where they learn—to provide flexibility and supports to ensure mastery of the highest standards possible.”

We hope to contribute to the conversation through highlighting the experiences of two real schools. Each school takes a different approach to the challenge.

We’ll highlight the key takeaways from two schools to show that personalized learning and standards-aligned, grade-level instruction are not antithetical, and can be compatible with the right structures in place. 

  1. Compass Academy (Denver, CO): How Compass Academy is maintaining a strong social emotional learning foundation alongside rigorous, standards-aligned instruction. Click here to learn more.

  2. Mildred Osborne Charter School (New Orleans, LA): How Osborne is implementing a blended learning model that ensures students have access to rigorous, standards-aligned instruction. Click here to learn more.


Get k12 Education Resources

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to join our community and receive monthly selections of actionable resources, stories of best practices from across our national network of partner schools, districts and CMOs, and invitations to exclusive events. We're glad to be learning together alongside you.