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The Future of Personalized Learning for Students with Disabilities

State Education Standard Volume 16, Number 3, ISSN 1540-8000


Personalized learning models can give each student differentiated learning experiences based on their needs, interests, and strengths, including students with disabilities. Personalized learning can pinpoint specific gaps in student learning, identify where a student is on his or her learning pathway, and provide the appropriate interventions to support students at just the right time. The passage of the "Every Student Succeeds Act" (ESSA) provides a historic opportunity for states to redesign K-12 education systems to support competency-based, personalized learning. Some future outcomes from ESSA include: (1) State policymakers ensuring that preservice preparation, professional development, and evaluation frameworks give educators, course designers, and administrators the supports and resources they need to understand and meet the diverse, unique needs of students with disabilities and apply best practices; (2) The usage of multiple flexible pathways for learning that create distinct, rigorous paths for students to gain the real-world skills and experiences they need to be successful after high school. These pathways encompass learning outside traditional classrooms: after-school programs, apprenticeships, community service, internships, independent study, online courses, performing arts, private instruction, and career and technical and college-level coursework; and (3) Blended and online learning tools that support these personalized pathways by offering flexible pacing, differentiated instruction, immediate interventions, and anytime, everywhere learning. Personalized, competency-based learning can close achievement gaps for students with disabilities and truly prepare them for success in college and the new economy.


Worthen, M. (2016). The Future of Personalized Learning for Students with Disabilities. State Education Standard, 16(3), 35-39. Retrieved September 28, 2022 from .

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