Deeper Learning

What is Deeper Learning?

Our Way Forward

In order to meet the demands of the modern world, students need to be able to research, create, and apply concepts in new formats and in collaboration with other people.

In their book, "In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School," authors Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine identify three primary attributes, "mastery, identity, and creativity," that distinguish environments that ask students to think in deeper and inventive ways.

In the deeper learning model, expert teachers help students demonstrate fluency in a given academic area so that students can identify themselves as participants in and contributors to that area.

While this style of learning is happening in some schools and some classrooms in Massachusetts, these experiences are infrequent for too many of our students. Research shows that deeper learning experiences are more common in affluent communities and honors tracks — settings where our high-needs students do not always have equitable access.

The shifts required to support a statewide move to deeper learning must engage all levels of the education system, from educators creating communities where deeper learning thrives to policymakers realigning incentives to support this new approach.

We must also accelerate our efforts to connect students to relevant learning opportunities beyond the classroom, such as apprenticeships, community-based learning, innovation pathways, early college, and technical education.

How We Plan to Do It

Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning. Starting in January 2020, Kaleidoscope will pilot our deeper learning initiative through a coalition of participating teachers, schools, and districts who will have access to opportunities and incentives to try out new approaches to teaching and learning. We will use the lessons learned in the pilot to refine the process, share successful deeper learning techniques, and ultimately expand the initiative.

Holistic Support and Enrichment. Research shows that out-of-school enrichment activities improve academic performance. To ensure access to these experiences for all students, we are committed to helping school districts partner with families, community-based organizations, employers, and universities to ensure all students receive enriching experiences and supports beyond core academics.

Innovation and Evidence-Based Practices. Schools and teachers are already innovating in their classrooms. However, our K-12 education system currently lacks a systematic way to measure the impact of innovations and incorporate strong practices into a collective body of evidence. We will begin to introduce a more systematic way to incentivize and learn from innovation in our schools.

The State as a Partner. Currently, communities are seeking more individualized support from the state based on their context and needs. We are committed to listening to the goals and challenges of each community to find ways to accelerate best-in-class teaching practices and supports for students, including reworking state policies and regulations to incentivize improvements.

Last Updated: August 26, 2019

Contact Information

Pilot Program

Kate Coleman
Operations Specialist

Funder Relations

Jass Stewart
Deputy Chief of Staff

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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