As students prepare for college and careers in the 21st century, it is essential that they are equipped with a wide range of knowledge, skills, and dispositions. While content knowledge is vital, students need to be able to use that knowledge in a way that prepares them for the real world. They must engage in deeper learning that not only addresses academic content, but also fosters critical thinking, collaboration, communication, self-directed learning, and an academic mindset. These skills and dispositions have rarely been an explicit focus in classrooms, but there are examples of schools that make them a priority.
The goal of this study tour was for participants to learn about schools that promote a focus on deeper learning through personalized learning experiences that prepare students for college and career success.
Participants visited two high schools in New England. The visits included classroom and internship observations, student and teacher panels, and discussions with administrators and network leaders. During the on-site visits and discussions with school leaders, participants studied the role of the following practices in promoting deeper learning for college and career success:
- Learner-driven instruction
- Project-based and interdisciplinary learning
- Performance-based approaches to assessment
- Graduation portfolios
- Re-envisioned role of the teacher
In addition to learning about practice considerations, participants also heard from state and district policymakers and national experts on the role of policy in supporting such approaches. Efforts such as capacity building, professional development, funding, standards, assessment, and accountability were discussed to identify points of leverage within school systems to promote deeper learning.