Student-Centered Learning in Rhode Island

Student-centered learning means learning that is personalized, competency-based, can happen anytime and anywhere, and allows students to take ownership over their own learning.

  • Learning that is personalized – A range of instructional approaches that are designed to address the skills, knowledge, needs, interests, and aspirations of individual students.
  • Learning that is competency-based – An approach to teaching and learning that bases student advancement on mastery of skills and academic content, rather than age, seat time, or hours on task and also may be called mastery-based or proficiency-based learning.
  • Learning that happens anytime, anywhere – The principle that structured, credit-bearing learning experiences can take place outside of the traditional school day, or even the school year, and that they can take place in the community and are not restricted to the classroom.
  • Learning that allows students to take ownership – Allowing students to become actively engaged in their own success by incorporating students’ interests and skills into the learning process and giving students a voice in decision-making about issues that affect their learning at the classroom, school, district, and state levels.

Adopting student-centered learning practices at the high school level can help students develop meaningful relationships with adults inside and outside of school, increase engagement and achievement for students from a variety of backgrounds and ensure that students graduate from high school with important social and emotional skills, including problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and strong work habits, that are essential for success in college and careers.


Policies and Practices Supporting Student-Centered Learning in Rhode Island: Youth, Family, and Community-Based Approaches to Equity in Education

The Rhode Island public education system has been plagued by racism since its founding in the early 1800s, and the inequities that developed as a result continue to be one of Rhode Island’s greatest challenges. Youth voice, family engagement, mental and behavioral health supports, expanded learning opportunities, and student-centered instruction all have a positive impact on student outcomes and when integrated into the design and implementation of schools can help address inequities in education based on race, ethnicity, and income. Creating policies and practices that are racially aware, that incorporate a whole child approach, and that recognize and address the cognitive impacts of trauma can help address equity. This new report provides recommendations on how schools can develop and sustain strong partnerships with students, families, and communities to promote excellent, equitable, and sustained school improvement efforts.

Policies and Practices Supporting Student-Centered Learning in Rhode Island: School Climate 

This report uses an equity lens to look at policies, practices, and measures of school climate, including student mental and behavioral health. The report suggests actions we can take to ensure that all students, particularly students of color, low-income students, differently-abled students and Multilingual Learners, are in schools that prioritize strong relationships between students and educators and promote excellent, equitable learning while also ensuring student safety and emotional well-being.

Equitable Access to College and Career Readiness Opportunities in Rhode Island 

Equitable Access to College and Career Readiness Opportunities and Advisory Systems and Individual Learning Plans examine policies and practices that support equitable  access to college and career readiness opportunities and how Rhode Island can ensure that these opportunities are available for all students, particularly low-income students, students of color, and students in high-need communities. 


Higher Education and Business Leader Perspectives on Preparing Students for College and Career

This pair of publications presents findings from interviews with Rhode Island higher education and business leaders. The interviews were designed to assess how student-centered learning is helping (or could help) prepare students for success in college and careers. For more, please see Rhode Island Higher Education Leader Perspectives and Rhode Island Business Leader Perspectives.

Preparing Students for College and Career: Policies Supporting Student-Centered Learning in Rhode Island

This report provides an overview of Rhode Island policies that support student-centered learning and examines of how Rhode Island can support the expansion of student-centered learning practices and ensure that these opportunities are available for all students, particularly low-income students, students of color, and students in high-need communities.

Engaging Students in Their Own Learning: Rhode Island Youth Perspectives

(Rhode Island KIDS COUNT in partnership with Young Voices) All information provided in Rhode Island Youth Perspectives is based on the results of six focus groups and represents the views of 56 students at seven public high schools in Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Providence, Rhode Island. The report provides youth perspectives on what teaching and learning looks like in schools currently, what experiences students have had with more student-centered approaches to learning, and how schools could better engage students in their own learning and prepare them for success in college and careers.

The Student-Centered Learning Fact Sheet Series:

Each of the Student-Centered Learning Fact Sheets highlights state policies that support and limit the spread of student-centered learning practices, highlights best practices in Rhode Island and across the nation, and provides recommendations for expanding and strengthening student-centered learning in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT works to improve the health, safety, education, economic security, and development of Rhode Island’s children.


Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
One Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


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