This article and report is authored by Jillian Kuhlmann and Geoff Zimmerman of KnowledgeWorks.

When KnowledgeWorks sponsored RAND Education and Labor to conduct analyses of RSU2 student outcomes over the past decade, our hope was that we could add additional insights to the evidence base to better understand the extent to which personalized, competency-based learning prepares today’s students for an uncertain future. The goal was to provide analyses that would be useful to RSU2 and KnowledgeWorks as well as the broader field regarding the short- and long-term effects on student outcomes of implementing personalized, competency-based learning.

We entered the project wanting to understand RSU2’s impact on a wide variety of student outcomes, including academic achievement, hope and well-being, attendance, graduation and postsecondary success. RAND conducted analyses with MAP data to show how RSU2 students performed relative to their matched counterparts from fall-to-spring of each academic year from 2008-09 through 2017-18.

But what we’ve learned is that answering the question of impact is more complex than ever. The data in this report reflects some clear challenges that RSU2 needs to focus on as well as bright spots. It also provides a jumping-off point to draw attention to the limitations of assessment across the country: what we know learners need to know and know how to do isn’t always aligned to what we measure, how we’re measuring it and what we hold schools accountable to.