Personalized Learning Driver Model


The Driver Model is Denver Public Schools’ framework for Personalized Learning (PL), a major initiative to ensure equity for all learners. The primary drivers guide the educators and learners to develop a new type of learning experience for all learners that maximizes opportunities for learner control and achievement. It represents our current understanding about how PL can be implemented within a public school by describing teacher and learner actions along a progressive continuum, from teacher-driven to learner-driven. The Driver Model is used primarily to:

  1. Support PL school design, goal-setting, implementation and progress monitoring
  2. Support our research to understand learner outcomes as a result of personalized learning
  3. Communicate a consistent definition of PL across the district
  4. Guide teachers in providing the learner the opportunity to create learning experiences that are meaningfully authentic and relevant.

The Driver Model is not intended to be used as a roadmap or a prescription for action. Rather, it serves four purposes for educators thinking about their educational practices:

  1. Diagnostics: Teachers and leaders can use the Driver Model as a tool for understanding where they currently are (both individually and collectively).
  2. Goal-setting: Teachers and leaders can use the Driver Model to set both short- and long-term goals and to characterize what the overall educational environment will become.
  3. Strategy development/action planning: The Driver Model provides a framework within which leaders can develop a whole-school strategy for change and teachers can identify action steps and develop plans to implement those steps.
  4. Progress monitoring: Teachers and leaders can use the Driver Model to set targets and timelines, develop measurement plans and instruments, and identify the information they will need to gather in order to monitor progress toward meeting their goals.

Definition of Learner Agency

We define learner agency as the learner’s ability--due to both internal capacity and external circumstances--to influence and ultimately direct his or her own learning.

Definition of Personalized Learning: Personalized Learning is an approach to education that focuses on building students’ identities as lifelong learners, so that, over time, they develop a full-fledged sense of learner agency and ownership of their academic progress. Ultimately, our model suggests it leads to improved academic outcomes for all learners.* Within the framework of a formal curriculum and the Common Core State Standards, teachers offer learners choice and flexibility in what and how they learn, in order to facilitate intrinsic motivation, engagement in learning, and self-determination, and they promote learner voice-oriented activities in order to foster learners’ influence, responsibility, advocacy, and leadership. Teachers set high expectations and adhere to high academic standards for everyone, in order to ensure that all learners reach their full potential.

Learner Paths: Learners can identify their cognitive and non-cognitive strengths and challenges, name and pursue their interests and passions, and develop skills in setting, monitoring, and reflecting on their own learning goals. Learners use quantitative and qualitative feedback (data) to assess their own progress, to evaluate the effectiveness of their learning strategies, and to set appropriate learning goals. This knowledge and these skills are foundational to the development of intrinsic motivation and ownership of learning, and to learners making beneficial choices that will lead to mastery.

Evolving Learner and Teacher Roles: Learner and teacher roles shift as learners develop their competencies, as they assume greater responsibility for their learning, and as they pursue specific areas of personal interest. Teachers provide appropriate resources and scaffolds to support learners on their individual journeys toward mastery. The role of the teacher is critical in evaluating learner progress and in determining when and how to give learners greater responsibility for their learning. Particularly for younger learners, as well as for learners new to Personalized Learning, teachers must skillfully gauge how best to foster the acquisition of independent learning skills that are the foundation for self-determination and learner agency.

Strategic Resource Use: The notion of learning resources is expanded to include the wider community (through mentorships and partnerships) and to harness the power of technology to enable and support learning across time and distance. Expanding resources in this way is critical to enabling learners to pursue their interests, to look beyond the teacher as the primary source of knowledge, and to learn valuable interaction and collaboration skills. By creating a flexible classroom learning space, teachers can introduce learners to the concept that learning results from the learner’s own engagement with the learning process rather than the structure of the environment. This understanding reinforces the development of self-regulation skills.

Developing, Deepening, and Demonstrating Competencies: Learning is made relevant and applicable to learners’ interests and life-goals, with a focus on creatively identifying, analyzing, and solving problems. Learning is grounded in depth of understanding rather than breadth of content. Learners advance based on their ability to master a skill or competency at their own pace, regardless of environment. Assessment is embedded in authentic tasks and may involve learners choosing assessment formats, developing rubrics, and providing self and peer feedback and evaluation. Increasing learners’ opportunities to participate in such voice-oriented activities is foundational to the development of learner agency that lies at the heart of Personalized Learning.

NOTE: All LEAP indicators aligned throughout the document are pulled from LEAP Distinguished Student Behaviors.