LOS ANGELES (August 17, 2023) – Seven in 10 high school teachers agree that a one-size-fits-all education, with the same curriculum and teaching methods for all students, is a thing of the past. More than half (51 percent) feel uncertain about their ability to impact their students’ performance in a traditional large-group classroom setting, according to a survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Learn4Life.
Most high school teachers (86 percent) are familiar with personalized learning, an alternative to traditional group learning that aims to customize learning for each student’s strengths, needs, skills and interests.
But educators point to challenges that prevent them from providing personalized education, such as lack of training by administrators and policies that restrict teacher autonomy with instruction. Plus, there is often limited access to technology and other resources that could support personalized learning and pressure to meet standardized test scores and curriculum requirements.
Learn4Life, a network of 85+ public high schools, developed a teaching model 22 years ago that emphasizes personalized instruction combined with a flexible schedule, trauma-resilient practices and job skills training.
“Most of the students who come to us are behind in credits because they weren’t successful in their previous school. Not everyone thrives in a large classroom listening to a teacher lecture,” explained Shellie Hanes, superintendent of schools at Learn4Life. “First, we do a thorough assessment to determine what their learning style is, where they need help and develop a plan just for them. They might be good readers but struggle in math, so we provide free tutoring in math as they progress in reading to build their confidence.”
Hanes said that equally important is assessing a student’s social and emotional needs. Have they been bullied? Are they dealing with a difficult family situation? Homeless, fostered, pregnant or dealing with poverty?
“All these types of long-term trauma definitely interfere with a child’s ability to learn,” she explained. “We focus on first removing obstacles in the way of learning and then we work on building resiliency.”
We’re living in an age of personalization – from what we want to watch on TV and menu suggestions to virtual doctor visits and personalized exercise plans. Yet education delivery remains generalized to large groups, despite more and more students failing in that system.
“We need to change up the structure of our classrooms for more collaboration and one-on-one teaching with our students,” Hanes added. “Teachers of personalized instruction find that their students are disciplined less, have fewer days of absence and are more engaged in school.”
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This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 high school teachers was commissioned by Learn4Life between April 5 and April 19, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).