Reading List: Student-Centered Learning

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George Knowles, Web Communications Associate

Last week, I discussed AYPF’s focus on our four guiding principles, one of which is student-centered learning. This week, we’ll revisit the topic, and provide some additional resources on student-centered learning.

Given AYPF’s mission to inform, educate, and engage, this series will help you stay on top of the latest and best resources out there. Watch this space for more detail on our other guiding principles and recommended reading.

Momentum behind student-centered learning is growing, and the strategy has multiple entry points for discussion. Focusing on students’ academic interests, establishing core-competencies, and providing opportunities for hands-on, personalized learning are all part of the broad approach to shaping education around students’ needs. The following list reflects this diversity:

CompetencyWorks “Understanding Competency Education in K-12”

An essential piece of student-centered learning is moving to a system that emphasizes mastery of critical college and career skills, rather than a model based on time-in-classroom. Competency-based education (CBE) places student success at the forefront, and this paper includes a comprehensive introduction to CBE, the essential elements, and snapshots of state policy.

American Institutes of Research (AIR) “Study of Deeper Learning: Opportunities and Outcomes”

As part of a three-year study, AIR has released a three-part study looking at the ways that schools have provided opportunities for learning that is student-centered and where students advance upon mastery. The first in the series looks at how a sample of “network schools” redesigned their curriculums to focus on deeper learning, the second examines specifically what learning opportunities students were offered, and the final installment focuses on student outcomes and the impact of deeper learning practices as compared to other schools.

Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) “Student-Centered Schools: Closing the Opportunity Gap”

Part of AYPF’s focus has always been on the “Forgotten Half,” and on disconnected youth. SCOPE’s study looks at four California schools that have traditionally had an underserved student population, and which feature performance-based assessment, hands-on learning, and a focus on college and career skills. The report also makes recommendations for implementing these practices in other similar schools.

Jobs for the Future (JFF)The Past and the Promise: Today’s Competency-Based Education Movement”

Students at the Center, a Jobs for the Future initiative, recently released the first in a series of papers that focus on the potential for competency-based models and how, with the use of information technology, these strategies and practices can be applied on larger scales in the future.

George Knowles is the Web Communications Associate with the American Youth Policy Forum.


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.