Personalizing 21st Century Education: A Framework for Student Success


By Dan Domenech, Morton Sherman, John L. Brown

What does it mean for students to be truly educated in a rapidly changing, technology-driven, and globally interconnected 21st century world? How can we ensure that every student receives a challenging, rigorous, engaging, and personalized learning experience throughout their elementary, middle, and high school years?Personalizing 21st Century Education explores the meaning of and a possible future direction for education in the 21st century—an education that transcends the archaic factory model of teaching and learning to which most students in public schools are still exposed.

Personalizing 21st Century Education: A Framework for Student Success (Jossey-Bass, an imprint of Wiley; Available March 2016; ISBN: 978-1-119-08077-0; $29.95, Paper) begins with a manifesto for change, emphasizing the significance of true personalization for every learner. Next, it describes classroom, school, and system-level performance indicators that suggest that personalization is alive and well. The authors examine the historical origins of most modern school cultures—i.e., a commitment to standardization, depersonalization, and test-driven metrics that ignore the complexity and totality of the whole child. Throughout Personalizing 21st Century Education are success stories showcasing schools and districts that are currently “beating the odds” and providing a truly personalized learning environment for their students.

In Personalizing 21st Century Education, the authors outline key components of a personalized learning system, including:

  • state-of-the-art curriculum
  • balanced and authentic assessment
  • integrated and student-focused technology
  • rigorous and engaging instruction
  • personalized approaches to learning
  • addressing the needs of diverse student populations, including English Language Learners, special needs students, socio-economically disadvantaged, and transient/highly mobile learners
  • effective and sustained social and psychological services
  • active parent and community involvement
  • creative and productive cross-institutional partnerships

For leaders, teachers, and other stakeholders, Personalizing 21st Century Education presents a vision for an individualized educational system that transcends current factory models and prepares students to be competitive in tomorrow’s global economy.

About the Authors:

DANIEL A. DOMENECH, Ph.D., (Alexandria, VA) is Executive Director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association. Domenech has more than 40 years of experience in public education, including 27 years in the superintendency. For seven years Domenech served as superintendent of the Fairfax County, Va., Public Schools, the 12th largest school system in the U.S. with 170,000 students. He serves on numerous boards including the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

MORTON SHERMAN, Ed.D., (Alexandria, VA) is Associate Executive Director of AASA. With 40 years of experience in public education, Sherman has served as a school superintendent for 25 years. Most recently he was superintendent of Alexandria, Va., Public Schools. He has published over 300 articles, many with a focus on mental health issues and on first amendment implications in schools.

JOHN L. BROWN, Ph.D., (Alexandria, VA) is Executive Director of Curriculum Services and Design for the Alexandria, Va., Public Schools. Previously he worked as an educational consultant for ASCD, serving in the national training cadres for Understanding by Design and What Works in Schools. He has developed numerous professional development online courses.

Personalizing 21st Century Education is now available for purchase online and at retailers nationwide in both print and all e-book formats. For a full list of retailers,


Pearson Highlights Improved Learner Outcomes in College and Career Readiness at Higher Education Institutions with New Educator Case Studies


Case studies demonstrate measurable impact on access, achievement, persistence, retention, time/tuition savings, completion, ROI and employability


NEW YORK – March 14, 2016 – Pearson today unveiled the 2016 College and Career Readiness White Paper featuring case studies demonstrating educational best practices and improved readiness, retention, and employability results at institutions using MyFoundationsLab, MyStudentSuccessLab, Pearson Writer and Smarthinking. These case studies were selected from two- and four-year colleges and universities and represent a range of on-ground, online, and blended learning implementation models.


Among the institutions featured in a case study is Southeast Community College, in Lincoln, NE. The college enrolls nearly 11,000 students annually and offers more than 50 programs of study, including 12 programs entirely online. With a commitment both to help students achieve their individual potential and to increase students’ employability, the college transfers or places into occupations more than 90 percent of its graduates each year yet offers the most affordable tuition and fees of all Nebraska colleges.


Observing that many students who scored poorly on the COMPASS placement exam would simply walk away from campus and not return, Phip Ross, transitions lab director, and his staff were determined to create an intervention to help students put their academic and career goals back on track. With funding from a Department of Labor grant, Ross launched the Quick Start program in 2012. Quick Start combines personalized skills remediation in MyFoundationsLab with advising, tutoring, and advocacy from Transitions Lab staff. Fifty-two percent of students who completed the Quick Start course with MyFoundationsLab earned college credit versus 32 percent of students in a control group without it. Ninety-one percent of all Quick Start students who retested on the COMPASS test improved their placement scores, testing out of an average 1.8 classes each and saving more than $136,881 in tuition from May 2012 through June 2014. Based on his experience, as part of this report, Ross has also authored an essay on lessons learned and best practices for combining skills remediation with advising support to help students acclimate, persist and succeed.


Another case study features Norco College, one of three colleges in the Riverside Community College District, serving 10,000 students annually, offering day, evening, weekend, and online access to academic and career technical programs in industry and the arts. A close evaluation of five years (2002-2007) of results revealed that of 614 students who started in the lowest level of three developmental writing courses, only 92 students (15 percent) persisted to successfully complete all three levels of developmental writing and freshman composition. To address this challenge, Norco’s English Department created Preparatory Composition (English 80), an accelerated pathway to freshman composition. As a result, 74.1 percent of students entering the accelerated Preparatory Composition pathway with Pearson Writer succeeded versus 24.6 percent of students entering the 3-course Developmental Writing sequence. Of students subsequently enrolling in English Composition, 82.7 percent of the Prep Comp students with Pearson Writer succeeded versus just 15 percent of the 3-course Developmental Writing students.


In addition to the case studies, this white paper features an interview with acclaimed writer and educator Mike Rose, a professor at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Author of the book, “Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education,” the conversation with Rose focuses on who goes to college today and why, and the need to update society’s mental image of the typical college student to reflect contemporary reality.


“We are excited to have been able to work closely with each educator. Each case study in this report offers a blueprint for helping learners achieve mastery in academic, life, and career skills. Findings from these case studies help us understand and communicate to other users the best practices and results of educators’ implementations,” said John Tweeddale, senior vice president, customer experience and engagement, Pearson.


To learn more, download the complete 2016 College and Career Readiness White Paper.


About Pearson
Pearson is the world’s learning company, with 36,000 employees in more than 70 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning. For more information about Pearson, visit