The Students at the Center framework includes four well-researched tenets, or principles, for deeper learning that disrupt patterns of oppression to ensure that each and every student has meaningful opportunities to acquire skills, knowledge and dispositions so that each student realizes their fullest potential. Drawn from the mind/brain sciences, learning theory and human development research, these tenets are overlapping and complementary.
Working together, educators, identified family and students develop engaging educational experiences customized to each students’ strengths, needs and interests so that students equitably achieve future-ready outcomes. When necessary, scaffolding and accommodations are made to ensure identified family and students can be active, genuine participants in guiding educational decisions. Structures and supports help students develop connections to each other, their teachers, their community and other adults that facilitate their learning.
Structures and supports are in place so that students have meaningful input and ownership over what, how, when and where they learn. Students are guided to take increasing responsibility for deepening their own learning and for others in their learning community, using supported strategies for self-reflection and self-regulation when necessary. Expectations and scaffolding to promote student agency and voice account for different cultural norms and implicit biases among students, staff and community and support students to consciously disrupt patterns of oppression.
Students move ahead or go deeper in the curriculum based not on the number of hours they spend in the classroom, but on their ability to demonstrate that they have reached key milestones along the path to mastery of transparent and future-oriented core competencies. Each student gets what they need to realize their fullest potential and master high standards through a flexible pace, differentiated support, individual and collective tasks and multiple means and opportunities to demonstrate skill development. Students have individual agency as well as collaborate in co-constructing path, pace and measures of learning. Standards and measures of mastery incorporate community input and voice to ensure culturally responsive, nonbiased, antiracist constructions.
Students have equitable options and access to a broad learning ecosystem that exists within and outside of traditional classroom walls and professional educators. Resources to support experiences and connections to community and real-world experiences are distributed in proportion with student need. Students can receive credit for the knowledge and skills they master as well as for prior learning. Intentional connections to mentors, advisors, postsecondary and career networks, jobs and other learning community members are brokered for students who need them.