Sustaining Innovation and Preparing for Scale: Financial Sustainability Research and Analysis of Personalized Learning School Models

Summary of Key Insights:

Teachers remain the most critical resource in personalized learning models.
Teachers continue to be considered the most important resource by principals in implementing personalized learning, regardless of model.

Professional development is an important up-front investment, but is manageable long-term.
Professional development is particularly important in preparing for the transformation to personalized learning, accounting for 21 percent of schools’ start-up costs.

Personalized learning is NOT just about technology – and we see this in the numbers.
Technology is a strong enabler of personalized learning models, especially in giving teachers real-time data on student progress.

New teacher leadership roles are important, but require financial flexibility to fund.
Three schools identified teacher leadership as critical to their model. These schools have moved away from traditional classroom staffing approaches and adopted team-teaching models with teacher leaders assuming additional responsibility.

Non-teacher instructional support staff were leveraged to support innovative models.
Two of the six models emphasized the importance of non-teacher instructional staff in supporting teachers.

For the schools in this study, we’ve found that whole-school personalized learning models:

  • Require modest investment to start – start-up costs ranged from $338K to $780K across the six schools, and $233 to $1,135 on a per pupil basis.
  • Prove sustainable without ongoing grant funding on typical district budgets.
  • Can even sustain severe budget cuts in a way that is comparable to or exceeds traditional Chicago Public Schools while personalizing the learning experience for students.