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Guiding Principles

  • Student-centered approaches to education are characterized by a focus on learning and are driven by the knowledge of developmental trajectories, skills, interests, goals and needs of students.
  • Leadership must establish systems and structures to create the conditions for student centered learning that include student voice and choice.
  • The full range of learning experiences—at all times of the day, week and year—are harnessed to provide learning opportunities and meet the educational needs and interests of all students. Use of time is flexible.
  • Schools provide a variety of standards-based, applied, blended learning multidisciplinary learning opportunities for students inside and outside of school. These opportunities may include project-based learning, internships, experiential education, career technical education, peer learning and apprenticeships.
  • An effective student-centered learning environment embraces rigor in the form of high standards and multiple, valid assessments of students’ mastery in regard to these expectations.
  • Rather than pace and progress occurring in grade levels in lockstep with other students, progress is based on an individual’s acquisition of competencies.
  • With a focus on learning, students take ownership of their learning and are able to assess their skills and learning needs. Educators take on the roles of facilitators and advisors in addition to content experts. Parents are active partners in the learning process.
  • Districts must clearly define the role of student as the individual responsible for his or her own learning. Districts, in collaboration with parents, must also prepare students for that responsibility. Parents are participants in their child’s learning journey.
  • The power of technology must be employed to open up avenues for student-centered learning. Technology systems must be deployed in ways that make systems interoperable so data, content, and tools can be shared seamlessly.

Source: Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Students at the Center HUB, 2015.

Key Issue 1

School districts must establish the culture, and conditions that will support and sustain student centered learning.


24.  The state, districts and others must develop and implement learning resources and policies that harness the power of technology to reach all learners anytime and anywhere.

Key Issue 2

Learning must be constant; therefore time will be the variable.


25.  Children must advance through school and ultimately graduate based on their demonstrated mastery of essential knowledge, skills and work habits.
26.  Schools must allow students to take varying amounts of time for students to master the required skills and content.
27.  Schools must provide teachers with the time and space for collaborative planning and learning.

Key Issue 3

The state and school systems need to work together to offer students multiple pathways that they design to learn essential knowledge, skills and work habits.


28.  Since students progress to more advanced work upon demonstration of learning by applying specific skills and content, school systems must offer students various forms of support as they advance at their own pace to meet established competencies.

29.  The state and school systems must work together to create multiple pathways that enable children to master essential content and skills. Therefore, school systems should be constructed and organized to offer diversity and choice in learning pathways.

30.  Students should work on levels that are appropriately challenging.

31.  Student progress will be reported in a standards-based format.

32.  Children must receive instruction in how technology can enhance the learning experience while also being wary of its potential threats. This includes being responsible, not only at school but also at home, and having lessons in digital footprints, illegal downloading and plagiarizing, and understanding what is okay to share and what should be kept private. In short, children should understand the components of being good digital citizens. Students must be digitally literate.

33.  Districts, in collaboration with parents, must develop programs that will prepare students to take on the responsibility for their own learning.

34.  Districts should replace state mandates regarding seat time with student learning outcomes that students will be able to meet by taking multiple pathways to master the outcomes.