Fresno Unified School District student outcomes improve with personalized learning

Fresno Unified School District, the fourth largest district in California, supports 75,000 students with a majority from low income households, and 22 percent who are English learners.  Fresno Unified represents some of our country’s most economically disadvantaged students – and yet they embody a wealth of opportunity. Beginning in 2016, Microsoft Education partnered with Fresno Unified to analyze the impact of our Personalized Learning Initiative (PDF link), that aims to better prepare students with the competencies needed to thrive in the creative, collaborative, digitally-infused world where they live and into which they graduate.  This shift to digital required new pedagogical practices as well as new measures to assess its impact.

Evidence from our first year of partnership and its rich learning analytics make a clear suggestion: The combination of technology and a clear pedagogical model, along with experiential professional development, has a strong impact on students’ learning outcomes.

The Personalized Learning Initiative improved students’ learning on ELA and Math assessments, and on their social and emotional learning. We see PLI middle school students have over 25 percent higher odds of meeting, or exceeding, standards in Language Arts and Math, compared to students outside of the initiative. We also see statistically significant differences in PLI students’ use of tech and digital collaboration. Perhaps more importantly, we see students taking greater ownership of their learning through this initiative, as revealed in the video below.

The PLI focuses on developing all students’ competencies for work, learning, and life. It supports deeper learning experiences that enable greater student voice, choice, and collaboration, and meaningfully integrates technology in teaching and learning.

This report represents the beginning of our commitment to using data and analytics to drive continuous improvement. Through a partnership between Fresno Unified School District, Microsoft, and California State University, Fresno, we have developed an integrated data model and mixed research methods to make teaching and learning progress visible.  This research collaboration demonstrates how teachers, willing and prepared to adapt their instructional practices, do better in preparing students. We honor them, learn from them and learn with them along the way.  We’d love to have you join us on this journey of discovery to better prepare students for life, work, and learning now and in #AsYetImagined futures.

In the meantime, we’re happy to share the full Fresno PLI report (PDF link), and point you toward more school success stories.