Science of Learning and Development

In recent years, there has been an explosion of knowledge about how children grow and develop into whole individuals, and an expanding consensus that they are often ill-served by the factory model for K-12 instruction. This powerful scientific knowledge is largely underutilized in new education models and approaches, and this deficiency is a major factor in the persistent problems of excellence and equity from cradle to career. These problems require concerted, science-informed, evidence-based efforts to adopt more personalized models for instruction as a component of strategies to promote excellence for all and mitigate the effects of adversity on student outcomes.

The central goal of the Science of Learning and Development Project is to elevate the science of learning and development as a key driver of system transformation in education policy and practice, advancing deep personalization of learning and the learning experience to support all students in achieving their full potential. In order to spur the shifts needed to accomplish these goals, the project is establishing a coalition of field leaders in the science and education communities (policy and practice) that will stand behind a shared articulation of the science of learning and development and how it can and should influence practice and policy in service of all students – particularly those facing adversity.

The first phase of the project focused on the following activities:

  1. Broadening and deepening the coalition and consensus of leading actors who are committed to a shared understanding of the science of learning and development and its implications, share a theory of action that integrates science, practice and policy to transform educational systems, and are invested in making this project a core pillar in driving education practice, policy, and research.

  2. Working with this expanding coalition to develop a shared R&D agenda that drives science-informed personalization of learning and the learner experience. This agenda will be focused on the whole child, interdisciplinary in nature, and applicable at the individual level.

  3. Creating and seizing timely opportunities that emerge from the collaboration, and taking action on the most impactful and most feasible recommendations for policy and practice.

The project is generously supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Ford Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Major organizational partners in this burgeoning work include EducationCounsel, American Institutes for Research, Learning Policy Institute, Turnaround for Children, and the Center for Individual Opportunity.