The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seeks to identify strengths, and refine promising personalized learning practices; determine which are most effective; and encourage innovative educators and other leaders to spread the most successful practices to other classrooms, schools, and districts.

The concept of personalized learning is still evolving as new models, approaches, and supporting technologies emerge. Still, many of the early adopting schools appear to be implementing similar practices. These include a focus on learner profiles that enable each student to be known well; the development of personalized learning plans for students; progress based on demonstrated knowledge and skills, rather than seat time; and flexible learning environments. All of these schools also are focused on preparing students for the Common Core State Standards and the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills students will need to persist and succeed in college and careers. And these schools are creating new roles and opportunities for teachers, who have been deeply engaged in the design of such schools.

This interim report from the RAND Corporation is the first in what will be a series of research reports based on an ongoing long-term study of foundation-funded schools that are using a variety of approaches to personalized learning. Although the early results are encouraging, the study does not attempt to make claims about which aspects of these schools contributed to the gains in student learning to date.