Reformer ToolboxLogin

CancelLost your password?

#AskExcelinEd: How are states advancing next generation learning?

• Karla Phillips

States are exploring next generation learning to provide schools with the flexibility and support needed to ensure students graduate prepared for college or career. Today, there is a new resource for education leaders to use in this important work.

ExcelinEd and Foresight Law + Policy’s new report, State Progress Toward Next Generation Learning: A National Landscapeclosely examines state innovation and pilot programs supporting next generation learning, which includes personalized learning and mastery-based education. The report uses data and information gathered during a review of these programs in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., to provide a national overview and identify seven Key Policy Components for these programs.

National Landscape Overview

Research and analysis reveal steady growth in the establishment of next generation learning programs across the country. State Progress Toward Next Generation Learning includes five key findings about the national landscape of next generation learning programs.

Key Findings

  • 33 states and Washington, D.C., are or will soon be administering a next generation learning program.
  • Since 2016, at least 15 states have created new next generation learning programs.
  • Since 2016, at least 6 states have amended or expanded existing next generation learning programs.
  • In 6 states, next generation learning programs have sunset, been suspended or otherwise terminated.
  • In 13 states, there are no known next generation learning programs.

Next Generation Learning Programs in the U.S.

7 Key Policy Components

Using over 50 examples from state programs, State Progress Toward Next Generation Learning identifies seven Key Policy Components for states to consider when designing general innovation or pilot programs.

These seven components encourage participation and provide guidelines to ensure programs follow the state’s vision for next generation learning while protecting participating students and ensuring school accountability. Best of all, the components allow for a completely unique state approach to next generation learning.

  1. Purpose Statement: Define a purpose statement that expresses the next generation learning program’s vision and intent.
  2. Innovation Plan Requirements: Define innovation plan requirements—such as criteria for participation and performance expectations—or provide administrators with guidance on establishing plan requirements in regulations.
  3. Innovation Plan Process and Administration: Establish in statute a well-designed process and guidelines for next generation learning program administration.
  4. Flexibility Request: Provide an opportunity for schools to apply for flexibility from state statutes, regulations and policies that may hinder innovation planning and implementation.
  5. Innovation Network: Establish school innovation networks with identified goals to create a space for collaboration and mutual support.
  6. Student Protections: Ensure that students attending a school of innovation or a pilot program are not at a disadvantage if they need to transfer to a new school or seek to apply for higher education admission, scholarships and financial aid.
  7. Evaluation and Reports: Provide for the collection and reporting of program data, progress monitoring, program evaluation and continuous improvement.

Using these Key Policy Components and the other resources described in the report, policymakers and other stakeholders can create strong foundations for next generation learning programs and begin to address existing challenges.


About the author

Karla Phillips

Karla is Policy Director for Next Generation Learning at ExcelinEd. Previously, she served as Special Assistant to the Deputy Superintendent of Policy and Programs at the Arizona Department of Education. Karla also served as the Education Policy Advisor for Governor Brewer and as the Vice-Chair of Arizona’s Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. Her experience includes serving as Director of State Government Relations for Arizona State University (ASU) and as a senior policy advisor for Arizona’s House of Representatives. Karla received her B.A. from Indiana University and an M.P.A from Arizona State University.