Make personalization the agent of equity

By Sonia Caus Gleason
August 2019
Vol. 40 No. 4
When people talk about their favorite teachers, they usually speak of being known and encouraged as a learner and as a treasured and understood person. The personalization movement in education seeks to make this experience less episodic, to cultivate those types of experiences for every student, with regularity. With systematic approaches to embrace and tend to each learner’s gifts and challenges, personalization can be an equalizer. But for this to happen, we need to be intentional about increasing access and support, especially for students of color and the economically poor. We need to make personalized learning the agent of equity. Just as wealthier families have more access to personal trainers and health care providers, curated entertainment playlists, and bespoke prom dresses, their children historically have

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Sonia Caus Gleason

Sonia Caus Gleason (scausgleason@nmefoundation.org) is director of strategic learning and evaluation at Nellie Mae Education Foundation.


Bryk, A. & Schneider, B. (2002). Trust in schools: A core resource for improvement. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

Carnevale, A., Fasules, M.L., Quinn, M., & Campbell, K.P. (2019). Born to win, schooled to lose: Why equally talented students don’t get equal chances to be all they can be. Washington, DC: Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce.

Geiger, A.W. (2018, August 27). America’s public school teachers are far less racially and ethnically diverse than their students. Pew Research Center Fact Tank. Available at www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/08/27/americas-public-school-teachers-are-far-less-racially-and-ethnically-diverse-than-their-students.

Yeager, D.S., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Garcia, J., Apfel, N., Brzustoski, P., Master, A. … Cohen, G.L. (2014). Breaking the cycle of mistrust: Wise interventions to provide critical feedback across the racial divide. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(2), 804-824.

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