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Tag: students with disabilities

Student-Centered Learning and Inclusion: Getting the Details Right

June 7, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at Education Week on March 29, 2018.

Will student-centered learning be a real long-term driver for equity and inclusion? As with so much in education reform, the devil is in the details.

Or to put it more positively, successful education reforms abide by a set of basic principles. They build from strong learning and human development research, build the capacity of key actors to effectively implement the reform, and align to the demands of an evolving society. Following this logic, the Students at the Center Framework is designed for success. The framework of personalized, anytime, anywhere, mastery-based, and student-owned learning capitalizes on an increasingly sophisticated understanding of learning sciences and whole-child theory and the development of new technologies. And the framework aligns to the demands of the 21st century by staying focused on ensuring students have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions essential for success and the capacity to make informed, active decisions in our society. Nevertheless, all the strong theory behind the framework doesn’t guarantee its promise can be realized for all learners, including those with different levels of abilities (the focus of this piece). Even when adopting a student-centered framework shaped from research on equity and inclusion–as this one is–actors must still be explicit in how to build equity and inclusion into design, planning, and implementation.

To see this first hand, we look closely at a foundational principle of the Students at the Center Framework: student ownership, or agency. Agency is essential to all aspects of the framework. For learning to take place anywhere and anytime, students must be able to make active choices about where and how they learn; for learning to be competency-based, students participate in determining how and when they demonstrate their learning; for learning to be personalized, students have to understand and communicate their needs, skills, and interests. Providing students conditions to exhibit agency is an educational best practice and essential for students entering a world where they have to make more choices about how they live and learn.

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