There are many benefits to personalized learning, such as greater flexibility, differentiated instruction, and increased student engagement. Randy Rodgers, superintendent of Montgomery County School System in South Georgia, sees another advantage: the ability for students to pursue their life’s passion as they learn core educational concepts.
Through the district’s Montgomery Academy, a fully online school available to students in the district and across the state, Mr. Rodgers and his staff provide personalized learning for students who may have a particular skill or interest, as well as for students who may have trouble thriving in a traditional school environment. Students can enroll full-time, or in-district students can enroll part-time for certain courses as a complement to the curriculum provided at their local school. For example, Montgomery Academy has one student who dances with a New York City troupe, which requires travel to and from the city each week. Another student dances in the Atlanta Ballet Company. Yet another student travels the country with her father on the competitive BBQ circuit.
“When I think of personalized learning, I think of the opportunity to experience the acquisition of knowledge. It can happen in a classroom, behind a computer screen, sitting on the dock of the bay, or any combination thereof,” said Rodgers.
In addition to providing a flexible learning environment for career-minded students, Montgomery Academy is focused on students’ academic performance, too. When asked about student success, Mr. Rodgers beamed as he talks about one student who earned a perfect score on the SAT. He also notes that Montgomery Academy’s students frequently score higher on standardized tests than students in local, traditional schools.
Further, personalized learning also enables Montgomery Academy students to “move on when ready.” Because the Academy uses Fuel Education’s online curriculum, and can receive instructional support through FuelEd for as few or as many students that are interested in a particular course, students can choose to take a variety of Advanced Placement (AP®) courses. Rodgers provides a level of ownership to his students that allow them to pursue these more challenging courses when they decide they are ready.
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