Our center has taken the first systematic look at what implementing personalized learning schools costs, how school leaders are spending their funds, and what it might take to make personalized learning financially sustainable with public dollars. We studied 16 charter elementary and secondary schools with a wide range of personalized learning models from across the country (we hoped to include district schools, but the data were not available). All of these schools received financial support through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Next Generation Learning Challenges, the earliest and most significant philanthropic investment in personalized learning to date. (The Gates Foundation also funded our study.)
While we can’t make overly sweeping generalizations from our research (we looked at a particular set of schools with particular characteristics), this first analysis of personalized learning finances enables educators and policymakers to learn from these early frontrunners and, ideally, to more clearly understand potential fiscal implications.