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BCS Using Grant to Personalize Education
BCS Using Grant to Personalize Education
Posted on 05/14/2021
Buncombe County Schools (BCS) is following the data to help students take the lead in personalizing their own learning.Pictures courtesy of BCS Digital Learning Facilitator Jennifer Hand: Teachers at Sand Hill-Venable Elementary School work with students on their learner profiles.

By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Buncombe County Schools (BCS) is following the data to help students take the lead in personalizing their own learning.

Thanks to a $50,000 N.C. Digital Learning Initiative (DLI) grant, BCS is working to build a program to personalize education for students based on what they know, what they need to know, and what their interests are. Organizers envision a program where students manage their own personal academic goals and master topics at their own pace while teachers create the support structures that promote growth and success.

“Parents want the very best for their students,” said BCS Digital Learning Facilitator Jennifer Hand. “They want someone to look at them and say ‘you need something different from the student sitting next to you.’ And this helps us get there in a rigorous, scientific way. It’s a deeper way to look at each individual and how they learn. Two students might be sitting next to each other and learning different content, because that’s what they individually need.”

BCS and partner agency Education Elements led focus groups earlier this semester and used their input to create a pilot version of the program that will roll out over the next two weeks in four classrooms (two at Sand Hill-Venable Elementary School and two at Valley Springs Middle School). As a first step, teachers and students collaborate to build learner profiles that give the teachers an in-depth understanding of what their students need.

“It’s a full picture of the student, their likes, how they learn best, and modifications they might need,” Ms. Hand said. “It changes as the student grows, and students have a voice in their learning profiles. This should help new teachers get to know their students and better meet their needs right from the start.”

With more relevant information, teachers become stronger facilitators for growth, said BCS Director of Elementary and Intermediate Education Jennifer Reed. Students will reflect on this information and write goals that they will monitor and update throughout the year.

“Utilizing a Learner Profile is a great first step to personalized learning by providing a window into the life, talents and interests of each child,” she said. “We are all excited to think about where this step will take us as we move forward.”

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin, shanon.martin@bcsemail.org, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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