Ming, N.C. (2013). Standardization and personalization in education: What should stay constant, and what should vary? (Working Paper #2013-01).
Education today is facing competing drives toward both standardization and personalization at unprecedented scale. Standards seek to ensure consistency in educational expectations and quality across thousands of schools and affecting millions of students nationwide. Personalized and adaptive learning environments seek to tailor the educational experience to every individual. The tension between these opposing trends toward normalization and differentiation reveals a need to better articulate when and how sameness and variability matter in education. Enforcing unnecessary standards squanders opportunity and dampens innovation, while allowing excess flexibility risks inconsistency and inefficiency. Amidst a landscape of changing needs and technologies enabling new paths, education and educators must adapt, in order to produce an educated populace that can itself adapt. This demands reexamining and clarifying the value of both standardization and personalization, to establish the appropriate balance between them.
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