​Resources: Jefferson Education Accelerator, Mathematica, OET, RAND,...

Personalized Learning

​Resources: Jefferson Education Accelerator, Mathematica, OET, RAND, WestEd

Oct 29, 2017

​Resources: Jefferson Education Accelerator, Mathematica, OET, RAND, WestEd

This article is part of the guide: The Personalized Learning Toolkit.

Jefferson Education Accelerator

In May 2017, the Jefferson Education Accelerator at the University of Virginia, in conjunction with Digital Promise, convened a significant symposium on Edtech Efficacy Research. The group created more than a dozen working groups that wrote papers and surveyed the field on issues that included:

  • The role of research in K12 district decision making;
  • The goals and roles of federal funding for edtech research;
  • Crowdsourcing efficacy research and product reviews.

All the papers are freely available here, and executive summaries of the groups are available here.


Mathematica Policy Research, a nonpartisan research organization that is nearly 50 years old, designs and executes studies on social policy for many government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education. (It also does work on health care, tax policy and other topics around research effectiveness.) It conducts large- and small-scale studies of program implementation and effectiveness.

Education is a key focus area. Mathematica also provides analytic and technical support for the Dept. of Education’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratory(REL), which serves Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. (There are 10 RELs supported by the Dept. of Education across the U.S.)

The Office of Educational Technology partnered with Mathematica to develop a Rapid-Cycle Evaluation protocol to help decision makers reach actionable and timely conclusions. Educators can use the Ed Tech RCE Coach tool for free.

See also Mathematica’s research findings on charter schools and reviews of teacher readiness and effectiveness by case study or by individual projects.

Office of Educational Technology

The Office of Educational Technology (OET), which is part of the U.S. Department of Education, created a blog series sharing insights from schools with a particular focus on:

Throughout this blog series, short videos from the U.S. Department of Education's Future Ready Leaders are embedded to highlight personalized learning in action.

RAND Corp.

RAND Corp., a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, was established more than 70 years ago by the U.S. Air Force to strengthen public policy through providing detailed research and analysis. It has carried out highly influential studies in education, most recently on the effectiveness of personalized learning. Reports, briefs, commentary and more on personalized learning are here.

Of particular note: A 2015 study showed significant gains from implementing the practices associated with personalized learning. In the summer of 2017, a followup study indicated smaller gains.

John F. Pane, a senior scientist with Rand, observed this about the two results:

  • Differences among the schools studied could affect results;
  • Affects typically differ from early grade to later grade school programs;
  • New programs frequently experience “a dip in achievement” during the first year of implementation;
  • Scaling innovations is complex.

He writes: “If effects [of PL] diminish when implemented more broadly, it will not have the magnitude of impact that many are hoping to see. A more optimistic interpretation? Personalized learning continues to look promising because positive effects were evident in the 2017 study despite these hurdles.”


WestEd is a 50-year-old nonpartisan, nonprofit research and development agency. It conducts studies and evaluations on issues that span from early childhood development and learning through college and career topics. Many of its publications and resources are freely available here. Other reports are available for a fee here.

WestEd also collaborates with the NewSchools Venture Fund Ignite program. Here’s the product rubric that WestEd has developed that educators in the program use to evaluate products and the research portal that curates relevant resources.

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