A recent RAND study of 40 schools also found educators felt that students worked much slower when allowed to go at their own pace, presenting yet another hurdle.
This article has lots of things to discuss, but for now let’s focus on the notion of personalized learning, often referred to as proficiency-based learning or competency-based learning. It seems to me that you can’t have it both ways: Either teachers stick to their time-based schedules and push students along regardless of whether they are learning key concepts and skills, or they create an environment that truly supports students in their learning. Naturally, students will learn and progress at different levels and at difference paces–this is just the nature of being human. I can tell you that I certainly cannot learn to play guitar scales as quickly or as easily as my husband can, but I can learn them and I can adapt them in ways that perhaps he wouldn’t consider. One is not better than the other–it’s just an example of how we are different and it’s important not just to accept those differences, but to embrace them.
The assembly line model of education just simply doesn’t work–despite our best efforts over the past several decades. We must adjust our educational structure in order to help students prepare for the challenges of their future careers. We must keep asking, “What do our students need to know and be able to do?” and then we must create learning environments to facilitate their success.