For more than a decade, Arcadia Unified School District has been on a journey to personalize learning across its six elementary schools, three middle schools, high school, and alternative school and outreach program. Personalized learning is foundational to its purpose: To challenge and inspire students to make a positive and profound impact on their world.
Over the last dozen years, the district has made significant progress—increasing infrastructure and technology, rolling out 1:1 Chromebooks, and exploring personalized learning paths. Working from a strong foundation of learner-centered teaching practice, Arcadia educators are skilled at cultivating engaging experiences for their students. The impact of their efforts are evident in high levels of student engagement and a 100% graduation rate. Additionally, Arcadia graduates have attended every Ivy League University in the country in addition to MIT, Stanford, and Caltech, among many other prestigious colleges.
Still, Arcadia’s board of education, looking to stay ahead of the educational curve, set a goal in 2016 to personalize learning for every student in the district. The challenge: Personalizing learning for all students all of the time was neither scalable nor sustainable for educators, especially those working with larger classes. Using multiple tools and systems to personalize content and learning experiences for their students, educators were already working long hours past the school day.
After investigating a number of learning management systems and myriad other solutions, Arcadia’s leadership team concluded that edtech alone was not the answer. Instead, they sought a partner who would provide holistic support, with both technology and services, through every stage of the district’s learner-centered transformation. In January 2018, AltSchool began a pilot partnership with Arcadia that included more than 300 students at Rancho Learning Center Lab School and First Avenue Middle School. The 2018-19 school year marks Year 1 of our official partnership. More than 130 teachers across the district have opted in and are using the AltSchool platform in 11 schools, with more than 4,000 students.
“As a superintendent, I can’t think of a better time to be in education. We have been building on and refining a 100-year-old factory model that is simply not going to serve our students in their lifetime. In Arcadia, we believe our established culture of innovation partnered with the foremost experts in personalization will reimagine a model for education that is personal to each child and has unlimited scalability.”
Arcadia educators have experienced a dramatic shift in their ability to personalize learning for individual and groups of students. AltSchool technology enables customization and distribution of learning materials in a much more targeted and efficient manner. Scorebook helps educators understand how to group students effectively. They then customize assignments using Cards and distribute the assignments via personalized Playlists.
Educators across the district regularly assign learning activities to groups ranging from 1 to 30 students. Over the past school year, nearly a third of those materials were assigned to groups of 10 or fewer students, reflecting students’ unique interests, strengths, and needs.
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of learning materials at Arcadia are assigned to individuals or
“We deeply believe that education is about the relationship between the teacher and the student. The teacher and the student can co-create educational experiences and environments that help students grow. We see technology as really helping that.”
Using Goals, Arcadia students and educators are able to specify and track learning targets. Over the course of the last school year, 70% of all goals were created by students; 30% were created by educators.
Tracking their learning targets has encouraged students to self-reflect as they work toward long-term goals. Supported by learner-centered practices such as personalized, timely Assessments, Arcadia students are developing increasing agency over their learning.
Arcadia students set their own goals on the AltSchool platform. Last year, they created over
the number of goals set by teachers.
“I see in our relationship with AltSchool the ability to teach our kids self-agency. I have all the confidence in the world that, when they leave us, they’ll be successful because they’re not dependent on an adult to guide them. They’re in charge of their learning and they will be successful no matter where they end up in life.”
The ability for students to document learning is a key way in which the AltSchool platform empowers student voice and choice. In their first six months on the platform, Arcadia students used Capture to document over 22,000 images and videos of their work in the classroom.
Students use this content as evidence of learning to inspire ongoing discussion with peers and educators. Meanwhile, educators can easily access this content from each student’s portfolio to share updates on student progress with their families via Stream.
instances of learning in their first 6 months on the AltSchool platform
“AltSchool helps organize my learning and makes it easy for me to plan my time. I really love the checklist steps [that my teachers create to] guide me through an assignment. The notification and comments make me respond to teachers' questions and feedback quickly.”
The AltSchool platform enables Arcadia's educators to assess core academic areas like math, science, ELA, and social studies, as well as social-emotional domains. Of the thousands of assessments of student progress administered last year, academics comprised the majority. However, as educators began to incorporate social-emotional targets into their curriculum, there was exponential growth in that area. Over a six-month period, assessments on character strengths such as grit, curiosity, and purpose grew fivefold.
Social-emotional assessments saw a
increase in Arcadia
schools last year
Arcadia's educators use the AltSchool platform to add in-line formative and summative Assessments to each student’s work, personalize Goals across academic and social-emotional subject areas, and share school work home with families. These practices are helping to make whole-child learning outcomes more visible to students and their families than ever before.
“AltSchool helps me by personalizing my learning. I get to work at the speed I feel comfortable with in a specific topic. This helps me understand my material with more depth.”