DRAFT Conceptual Framework for Maine’s RTTT Application

DRAFT Conceptual Framework for Maine’s RTTT Application
Revised March 16, 2010

Maine has embarked on the creation of a holistic and integrated education system we call A Personal Journey for Next Generation Learners. With the opportunity and synergy of RTTT, we are now positioned to move forward more completely toward a systemic approach to supporting learning. This system takes Maine deeper into operationalizing the principles and innovations we have been working on for more than 20 years, which recognizes that the old way of all students sitting in a classroom learning the same topic at the same time have not led to optimum learning for individuals or for the system as a whole. As a result of personalized learning, next generation learners will transition from PK-12 education equipped with a plan for further learning in which they are already engaged, a well-developed portfolio of academic and extracurricular experiences, and a strong sense of who they are as learners and the confidence that comes from mastery of skills needed to be successful in whatever they endeavor to do. At the heart of this new system is the individual student, and their personal journey for next generation learning. Each student will be supported by a system comprised of four key elements:

  • Student Focused Learning - Encompasses early education through the transition to post-secondary education/career. The individual learner is at the center of an educational process that is personally relevant, challenging, and responsive to unique interests and abilities. Through planning for personalized learning, students can develop post-secondary education and career goals, advocate for their needs, reflect on their progress, gradually assume responsibility for their own learning, and develop identity as life-long learners. Personalized learning puts the needs and interests of the student at the center of a data-driven framework for setting goals, assessing progress, and ensuring that students receive the academic and developmental supports and opportunities that each needs. As our ability to assess and understand the unique characteristics of individual learners grows and our knowledge of the science of learning expands, we can anticipate mass customization of learning where we are better able to anticipate, diagnose, and personalize what each student needs. Personalizing learning means creating and sustaining meaningful relationships among students, those who teach and support them, and the content and skills they pursue. Planning for personalization goes well beyond the simple presence of plans for individual students. It extends to a delivery and support system that changes and adapts based on the student’s aspirations and progress. We anticipate a system that enables and honors authentic student voice so young people are deterministic about their learning experiences and paths.
  • Systems of Learning Support - An effective system requires safety nets for students along the entire continuum of learning to address factors that interfere with their success. Maine’s systems of learning support will be tiered and weave together the resources of school, home, and community to provide a full array of services that follow the learner. Rather than simply being building- or school-based, the system will include early childhood and early learning support to ensure that each student can achieve his/her full potential as a next generation learner. Learning supports, including interim benchmark assessments, customized learning plans, and performance based assessment systems, are designed for all students, whether they are struggling or thriving. Learning services and supports need to reach students in unique placements and circumstances. A cohesive, coherent system of supports enables all students to have an equal opportunity for success by removing barriers to learning, enhancing engagement, and reengaging disconnected youth. Systems of support for learning are necessary to address the gaps in achievement and success among student subgroups. While education will take a leadership role in enabling such systems to be created, education cannot take on this task alone. A continuum of supports, in which public education and its partners collaborate to ensure that each entity does what it does best, will encompasses resources, strategies, and practices that will collectively create and sustain a student’s sense of hope and confidence about his or her future.
  • Performance Based Learning - The focus of our developing accountability system is on student-by-student achievement. Students advance based on their demonstration of content knowledge and skills as they are ready given opportunities to learn that enhances and maintains student motivation to do their personal best. Curriculum is standards-based and modular, so that students can enter and exit when they demonstrate proficiency. Assessments are embedded throughout the curriculum as part of learning progressions. Instructional strategies are based on authentic, extended inquiry into complex problems. Performance must transfer and be applied in real world context of careers and civic/social responsibilities.
  • 21st Century Knowledge and Skills - All students will be prepared with a solid foundation in core academics and the skills and competencies that allow them to apply, deepen, and create new knowledge in a globally competitive world. The skills, knowledge, and dispositions, include; but are not limited to individuals as: (i) effective communicators, (ii) self-directed and life-long learners, (iii) creative and practical problem solvers, (iv) responsive and involved citizens, (v) integrative and informed thinkers.

The system is dependent upon great teachers and leaders to ensure the system’s optimal operation and success. Thus it will be essential to ensure that needed teachers and leaders, and those entering the profession are trained to facilitate and lead learning in this system. Thus:

  • The development of great teachers and leaders drives the system’s success. Human capital to support the Personal Journey for Next Generation Learners is critical. Educators’ evaluation will also be performance and outcome based, addressing the fundamental question, “Is this educator helping his/her students achieve the State’s and core Content Standards?” Evaluation will be tied to both student growth, as measured by the State’s academic achievement assessments, and whether teachers and leaders are doing what is needed to implement the personalized learning system. Teachers need to facilitate learning on a student-by-student basis, utilizing technological resources, to ensure that each student achieves the 21st Century skills and knowledge to be postsecondary, career, and citizenship ready. Principals and other school leaders need to lead and facilitate change, lead teachers in the use of best practices, and the use of data systems to ensure success of the system and the Personal Journey for Next Generation Learners
  • Practicing teachers and leaders will remain the core of the education workforce for many years to come. Currently practicing teachers and leaders will receive extensive, on-going professional development to support students in Maine’s system of personalized education. Educators will learn to facilitate and probe learning plans, and focus on the critical skills students need to know and develop. Teaching in this new re-cultured system will be as much about a process of support for learning as it is about providing students with the teaching and resources to achieve our high content standards. New teachers and leaders entering the profession will be prepared and mentored to teach and lead in Maine’s new system of personalized learning that assures success in postsecondary and applied learning for a fulfilled life. In alignment with Maine’s Guiding Principles for All Learners, educators must become clear and effective communicators; self-directed and life-long learners; creative and practical problem solvers; responsible and involved citizens; and integrative and informed thinkers.

Two principles inform our work to develop the Personal Journey Next Generation Learners:

  • Transparency - the educational system at all levels must be open, visible, and responsive to all stakeholders from students and teachers, to parents and the general public.
  • High Quality - learning is continuous across the lifespan; learning does not just happen in a classroom; technology infrastructure and resources support learning extended beyond the typical school day, schedules and buildings.  High quality learning opportunities are available to all children in our state, unbounded by time or location constraints.