Continued Progress: Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning

Gates-RAND Continued Progress

While the concept of personalized learning has been around for some time, advances in technology and digital content have placed personalized learning within reach for an increasing number of schools. A new report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and RAND Corporation found that students in schools using personalized learning strategies made greater academic progress, over the course of two years, than a comparison group of similar students.

This long-term study, conducted by RAND, examines student achievement, school design, and student and teacher perceptions of schools using personalized learning strategies. “Continued Progress” is the second report from the study and looked at the progress of approximately 11,000 students. And we learned that personalized learning is working for students.

  • A majority of schools had positive effects on student math and reading performance over two years, echoing results from last year in a sample that is nearly three times as large.
  • Growth continued to accumulate in the third year in math and reading in schools implementing PL since 2012.
  • Scores grew substantially relative to national averages.
  • Relative growth rates were higher for students with lower starting achievement.
  • Overall, these findings suggest that the effects of personalized learning on student achievement are promising.

While there is not one common definition of personalize learning, experts are looking for three key elements:

  • Systems that deepen and accelerate student learning by tailoring instruction to individuals’ needs, skills and interests
  • Approaches that offer a variety of learning experiences that prepare students for college and career
  • Teachers who play an integral role by managing the learning environment, leading instruction and guiding students to take ownership of their learning

We hope that these findings—which show promising results on student achievement—will encourage continued adoption of personalized learning practices.

Visit the RAND website to learn more about the report >