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Future Ready Schools to Lead Digital Personalized Learning Institutes

Future Ready Schools will lead a series of eight professional development events for districts looking to implement or grow digital personalized learning strategies, according to an announcement yesterday.

The FRS Institutes, a series of free two-day sessions in eight cities, is the latest initiative from Future Ready Schools, a partnership among the Alliance for Excellent Education, the U.S. Department of Education, and a coalition of national and regional organizations.

The institutes will offer professional development opportunities focused on innovation, change management, and data use for teachers and school and district officials, according to a statement from the alliance. Programming will draw from the partnership's Future Ready Framework, a research-backed structure for district leaders implementing personalized learning that addresses curriculum, assessment, infrastructure, data privacy, community partnerships and budget.

The institutes are intended to foster collaboration between and within districts and build regional networks of support that would go beyond the two-day event, said Tom Murray, the director for innovation for Future Ready Schools at the Alliance, in an interview.

"One of our main goals is to break down the traditional silos that exist in education," said Murray.

Future Ready Schools aims to help district leaders create capacity to build digital personalized learning programs. Over 900 school districts use their online planning dashboard to assess district needs and track implementation progress over time. FRS also provides local resources, webinars, and an online community of mentoring districts through the online portal. The partnership has held several series of national summits and workshops for district leaders since its launch in 2014.

In view of President Trump's plans to slash funding for Department of Education programs, Murray says that FRS will not be affected by budget cuts.

"We haven't received a dollar of federal funding for Future Ready, and that's been very purposeful."

FRS receives financial support through grants and corporate partnerships, said Murray. He emphasized that the program focuses on educational attainment for all students and was not meant as a tool of political outreach.

"Future Ready Schools was created with the understanding that the Alliance for Excellent Education would develop and run the program as a freestanding program, no matter who succeeded Barack Obama as president," said Bob Wise, the Alliance's president, in a Feb. 9 statement.

The alliance does not expect any changes to the program under President Trump, Murray said, though, "Any support received would certainly be appreciated."

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