RFPs Reveal District, State Priorities

Interest in pursuing 'personalized learning'—however schools choose to define it—is evident in the language found in the requests for proposals and other solicitations put forward by K-12 systems around the country in recent years.

RFPs Reveal District, State Priorities

Interest in pursuing 'personalized learning'—however schools choose to define it—is evident in the language found in the requests for proposals and other solicitations put forward by K-12 systems around the country in recent years. A sample of those requests:

Freemont School District 79, Ill.

Enrollment: 2,200 | April 2016

VISION: "With an ultimate goal of personalized learning for students and staff, we are seeking a professional learning partner that will engage over time with our leadership team, classroom teachers, and other licensed staff."

LOCAL CONTEXT: This P-8 district in the northwest suburbs of Illinois sought to create a "dynamic digital learning environment" in its schools. As part of that plan, it needed to train teachers, administrators, and staff members who could support the district’s plans to implement blended learning.

RESULT: District did not end up choosing any of the vendors that submitted; it is now exploring a pilot project to meet its goals.

Colorado Springs School District 11

Enrollment: 2,800 | January 2016

VISION: "The district is seeking a firm that can provide K-5 personalized-learning and change-management consultancy with a next generation learning focus and support with two schools."

LOCAL CONTEXT: This school system searched for consultants to help devise a "comprehensive vision" for teaching and learning over a three- to five-year period at various schools testing personalized-learning models in the district. The consultant was needed to help the schools identify professional learning opportunities in areas such as change management, communications, student recruitment and retention, self-assessment, and leadership.

RESULT: A vendor, G&D Associates, was chosen on an award worth $46,500.

Vermont Agency of Education

December 2015

VISION: Vermont state officials asked for vendors to help them create an "intensive and sustained model of professional learning," which includes a focus on developing "flexible and personalized pathways."

LOCAL CONTEXT: Vermont officials sought vendors to help districts design and provide professional learning opportunities and products in a number of ways connected with efforts to "personalize" learning. Those goals included building districts' capacity to establish proficiency-based learning and flexible academic pathways and locally designed assessment systems, among other goals. Flexible academic pathways featured a focus on career and technical education, virtual learning, service learning, dual enrollment and early college, and other options.

RESULT: The state hired the Center for Collaborative Education, based in Boston, on a two-year contract worth nearly $700,000.

Florida Virtual School

Enrollment: 6,000 full time, 200,000 part time | June 2015

VISION: This major provider of online education was looking for proposals to create an adaptive-learning engine capable of providing a "personalized path to content mastery" for each student.

LOCAL CONTEXT: The Florida Virtual School provides online courses to students in the state and around the country. It sought an adaptive-learning system capable of helping personalize student learning by collecting data on students' current proficiency, time spent on academic tasks, personal interests, and other information. Those adaptive systems were supposed to work with any learning-management system. They were also required to create an experience for students that is "seamless and engaging" and to provide teachers with dashboards of data on student performance.

RESULT: The school hired adaptive learning provider Knewton on a contract of up to $1.4 million for three years, with the right to renew for two additional years.

Chesterfield County Public Schools, Va.

Enrollment: 59,000 | February 2016

VISION: The school system sought an "adaptive, webbased teaching and learning literacy solution" that can accommodate personalized-learning paths for students.

LOCAL CONTEXT: The district put out an RFP for methods of providing reading content with differentiated, adaptive-learning paths to meet students' individual needs and to help the district raise its overall reading performance. Its vision included a web-based curriculum to address specific areas of reading, including phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. One requirement was that the system have the ability to "adapt and create personalized-learning paths for students" based on their interactions with the system.

RESULT: This solicitation is still open.

Kenowa Hills Public Schools, Mich.

Enrollment: 3,150 | May 2016

VISION: The district pursued coaching and professional development for its continued evolution of a "personalized-learning system."

LOCAL CONTEXT: This school system, located in western Michigan, said that its goal was to remake its education system so that "learning is the constant and time is the variable," with a strong emphasis on competency-based education and personalized learning. The professional training and coaching is expected to be customized to the needs of individual schools and district staff. Kenowa Hills officials said they were looking for coaching and PD that drew from a number of areas, including strategic planning with district staff, and reports from individual schools.

RESULT: The district hired a coach who will be embedded in its schools during the 2016-17 school year, at a cost of about $71,000. The coach will provide PD, make class visits, and provide outreach to parents, among other duties.

Read the complete special report, Personalized Learning: The Next Generation.

Coverage of the implementation of college- and career-ready standards and the use of personalized learning is supported in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.
A version of this article appeared in the October 19, 2016 edition of Education Week as RFPs Reveal District, State Priorities