Are personalization and high-quality materials mutually exclusive?

By Tracy Crow
August 2019
Vol. 40 No. 4
Learning Forward believes districts that don’t prioritize the use of high-quality instructional materials are neglecting a pivotal ingredient in establishing equitable learning conditions (Learning Forward, 2018). If offering every student the opportunity to experience rigorous teaching and learning is part of a district’s mission — and there are very few systems where this is not true — then high-quality materials are essential. We also acknowledge that ensuring each student’s access to rigorous content is necessary but not sufficient. Intellectual engagement is a critical factor in instruction and learning. As authors throughout this issue of The Learning Professional demonstrate, personalization gives students multiple entry points to content and helps them develop agency in their learning. Addressing their interests, needs, and unique approaches to learning are factors

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Tracy Crow

Tracy Crow ( is director of communications at Learning Forward.

New white paper explores D.C.'s Team Learning Model

Learning Forward has just released The Path to Instructional Excellence and Equitable Outcomes, a white paper on the District of Columbia Public Schools’ innovative approach to supporting teaching instruction, called Learning Together to Advance our Practice, or LEAP.

LEAP is based on research that has found the most effective professional learning is school-based and content-specific, grounded in the instructional materials and strategies that teachers will use with their students. At its core, LEAP is about helping teachers become expert at teaching high-quality, standards-aligned content so that every student experiences rich, engaging, and challenging instruction every day.

Here are key takeaways from the paper:

• Teacher effectiveness increases through professional learning cycles focused on student content and instructional materials.

• Implementing high-quality instructional materials is complex and requires intensive support for educators.

• Alignment of an instructional vision throughout a system is bolstered through collaboration with an external assistance provider.

• Elements for successful implementation include a plan for intentional scaling and intentional development of leaders throughout a system.

• Educators who implemented LEAP with high fidelity saw marked improvements in student results.

LEAP was created through a partnership with Leading Educators, a professional learning nonprofit technical assistance organization. Aftertwo years of district capacity building and gradual release of design and implementation, the district has expanded the LEAP program to include teachers in all 116 DCPS schools.

Download The Path to Instructional Excellence and Equitable Outcomes at


Hirsh, S. & Crow, T. (2018). Becoming a learning team (2nd ed.). Oxford, OH: Learning Forward.

Learning Forward. (2011). Standards for Professional Learning. Oxford, OH: Author.

Learning Forward. (2018). High-quality curricula and team-based professional learning: A perfect partnership for equity. Oxford, OH: Author.

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Chief Strategy Officer (Retired) | + posts

Tracy Crow served as chief strategy officer for Learning Forward.

The Learning Professional

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