Financing Personalized Learning: What Can We Learn From First-Generation Adopters?

By Larry Miller, Betheny Gross, Tricia Maas, José Hernández, Alton Lu & Robin Lake
April 17, 2016

This paper takes the first systematic look at costs associated with implementing personalized learning schools, how leaders of these schools choose to allocate their funds, and what it might take to make personalized learning financially sustainable on public dollars. Researchers at the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), in partnership with Afton Partners, studied 16 charter elementary and secondary schools with a wide range of personalized learning models from across the country. The findings from this study suggest that those interested in implementing and supporting these models need to think hard about how to use scarce public and private dollars to their greatest effect so that personalized learning can achieve its promise.

Key Findings

  • The total amount personalized learning schools spent on their programs was largely spent on salaries, facilities, and operations – not technology.
  • One-time costs associated with starting a personalized learning school can be substantial, but not always.
  • Start-up expenses, revenue forecasts, and enrollment projections are easy to get wrong.
  • When faced with financial trade-offs, schools tend to protect human capital and reduce technology spending.
  • Schools appear to be reducing their reliance on private supports, but their long-term financial stability is still unclear.

This is useful for education leaders, policymakers, and philanthropies who are increasingly interested in personalized learning as a way to dramatically boost student outcomes. It is helpful to help think about the magnitude of dollars, and more importantly, educator and student time, being invested and how it is likely to grow exponentially.

Source Organization: The Center on Reinventing Public Education 

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