Nearly seventy-five school leadership teams from districts across the Midwest gathered in Madison, Wisconsin, on June 14–15 and Austin, Texas, on July 18–19 for summits on how technology can be an effective tool to improve teaching and student learning outcomes. Organized by the Alliance for Excellent Education (the Alliance) and the U.S. Department of Education, Future Ready Schools (FRS) national summits assist school district leaders in developing student-centered personalized learning environments that are tailored to students’ unique strengths and needs.
“There’s a movement happening across the country to personalize learning for each student’s needs,” said Alliance President Bob Wise. “Major efforts to improve student outcomes are being led by local superintendents and are happening at the school and district levels around the country. School district leaders can look to Future Ready Schools for guidance and support in planning how to create personalized learning environments in their schools, in part by leveraging the effective use of technology.”
Under a personalized learning approach, teachers are able to understand each student’s background, strengths, interests, and needs, and provide individual students with targeted instruction and support in areas where they are struggling. Students have more learning opportunities inside and outside of the classroom, connecting work to their community through real-world experiences. This approach helps all students develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities that will prepare them for college, a career, and life. Personalized learning is at the center of FRS, which provides district leaders with a systematic approach to change that infuses high-quality teaching with the dynamic use of technology, resulting in more student engagement and better learning outcomes.
“Wisconsin schools make great efforts to reach kids, meet their needs, and provide a learning environment that prepares students for college and career,” said Wisconsin State Superintendent Tony Evers. “As I visit classrooms and talk with educators, I am consistently impressed with how technology is being leveraged to personalize learning for students.”
At the summits, FRS district leadership teams began establishing a shared, student-centered vision for teaching and learning; created action plans for digital learning transformation; and learned how to create a culture of innovation in their schools. To solve specific issues facing individual district teams, participants had access to national experts, regional colleagues, and successful implementation examples. The district teams engaged in facilitated conversations, networking activities, and team planning opportunities.
“Future Ready Schools is about empowering teachers and leaders, helping students take charge of their own learning, and keeping parents engaged and informed,” said Wise. “It’s about a more personalized approach to teaching and learning that ensures that all students, including students from low-income families and students of color who have been traditionally underserved, have the skills they need to succeed in college and a career.”
The Madison and Austin events are two of several national FRS summits featuring leadership teams from districts where the superintendent has signed the Future Ready District Pledge, joining more than 2,200 district superintendents committed to the FRS initiative.
Districts can also access free, online tools, including the FRS interactive planning dashboard and the FRS Hub, a one-stop shop of digital learning planning materials, tools, and activities, at www.FutureReady.org. FRS also offers free, one-day workshops across the country that provide hands-on training to participants about the dashboard’s five-step planning process.