Doug Mesecar
Nov 30, 2016

Tens of thousands of Texas students will start powerful new learning experiences this Fall, with many of them engaging in innovative learning at their own pace in earning credits for graduation, catching up in Algebra, and in earlier grades.

Earlier this summer, Raise Your Hand Texas announced the 5 winners of its personalized learning grant competition.  (See here  for more on the initiative.)  The organization is hoping that this effort will be the “engine [that] powers student-centered learning at scale in Texas.”

The winners were a diverse mix of urban, suburban and rural districts, as well as a charter school network: BirdvilleCiscoPasadena, and Point Isabel ISDs, and KIPP Houston public charter schools. Notably, these five have a combined average of 72% economically disadvantaged students, significantly higher than the state average of 60%. Personalized learning will be piloted in 20 schools in year one, with some planning to scale district-wide in three years.


This is a significant effort in launching – and supporting – effective blended learning in a state that has been a leader in education innovation; this initiative is a strong start in returning Texas to the top tier of educational excellence.

As a winner of the Raising Blended Learning Initiative, each will receive as much as $500,000 to launch personalized learning.  In an important step to incorporate performance-based funding, grant money beyond the first year depends upon the demonstration of meaningful progress against defined metrics and goals.  In addition, the five winners will also receive three years of expert assistance to support their initiatives.

A major goal is for these five winners to become exemplars of what high-quality, effective implementation of personalized, blended learning looks like. Each winner will apply blended learning strategies to address specific challenges and opportunities, including competency-based learning, literacy and numeracy, the unique needs of English Learners and special education students, student motivation, high school graduation rates, postsecondary readiness, and performance on state assessments.

For example, Birdville ISD plans to implement station rotation and flipped classroom models to personalize instruction and improve literacy results, while also redesigning an alternative high school into a school of choice for all students using a flex model to allow learners to speed up – or slow down – course completion and credits earned based on individual needs.  Rural, small Point Isabel ISD will use a flex model at their high school to improve academic outcomes and postsecondary readiness. In addition, Point Isabel will use station rotation and flipped models in their elementary and middle schools, with particular emphasis given to English Learners and Special Education students.

Raise Your Hand Texas also named 15 more districts that will be implementing smaller, non-grant-funded pilots. Along with the 5 winners, these additional districts will receive implementation assistance, leadership coaching, and professional development to support their efforts, including design thinking workshops, help selecting edtech tools, budgeting and financial planning, teacher and school leader professional development, and project management.

All of these districts will help propel statewide expansion of high-quality, personalized, blended learning (see the Texas state map for a listing of districts and locations).

Raise Your Hand Texas has taken a significant step in launching the adoption of personalized, blended learning. We hope the winners – and all of Texas – are successful in scaling personalized learning and become beacons for other states and districts.

By Doug Mesecar for the Blended Learning Facts Blog
Originally published at:

Topics: Teaching & Learning In the News