The New Paradigm: Education 3.0

The New Paradigm: Education 3.0

Table of Contents


Can you imagine schools without grades, grade levels, and classrooms? The new paradigm uses attainment-based student progress, project-based learning, self-directed learning and peer tutoring or collaboration, and more technological tools and materials. These make traditional concepts of schools obsolete and ineffective for today's educational needs. 



- Charles M. Reigeluth

1. Attainment-based system
  • Attainment-based student progress.  Each student must reach the standard before advancing and must be allowed to advance as soon as the standard is reached.

  • Attainment-based student assessment.  Student assessment is both formative, to assist learning, and summative, to certify individual mastery of each attainment.  It does not produce grades, averages, or other student-to-student comparative measures.

  • Attainment-based student records.  A record of attainments indicates which standards each student has attained (instead of grades), and each attainment may be linked to a portfolio item.














2. Learner-centered instruction
  • Personalized.  Each student has a personal learning plan that customizes both content and methods to the individual’s needs.

  • Project-based.  Students work on engaging, authentic projects that entail learning selected attainments.

  • Collaborative.  Students often work in small teams on the authentic projects.

  • Individualized instructional support.  Instructional support for project-based learning provides personalized tutorials for mastering skills just in time during the projects.

  • Special needs.  All children are special and fully integrated with the other children.

3. Expanded curriculum

This core idea has evolved since the book was published.  It still expands the curriculum to all aspects of child development, including emotional, social, physical, and character as well as cognitive.  It still includes 21st century skills.  But it also entails a massive restructuring of the curriculum that makes it a truly different paradigm of curriculum.  It is based on Marc Prensky’s reorganization of the curriculum from the four pillars of math, language arts, science, and social studies, to the four pillars of effective thinking, effective action, effective relationships, and effective accomplishment.  Prensky offers the following subcategories:

4. New roles
  • New roles for teachers.  Teachers (now called guides or advisors) are caring mentors, designers (and/or selectors) of engaging student work, facilitators of student work, lifelong learners, and cluster owners.

  • New roles for students.  Students are self-directed learners, teachers, and collaborative participants in learning.

  • New roles for parents.  Parents are actively involved in both deciding what their child should learn and helping her learn it. Parents also have input into how the school operates.

  • New roles for technology and other resources.  Technology and hands-on resources play a central role to support planning, learning, assessment, recordkeeping, collaboration, and communication.

        Six Core Ideas

        These ideas are summarized from the book, Reinventing Schools: It’s Time to Break the Mold:


  1. Attainment-based student progress, assessment, and records

  2. Learner-centered instruction

  3. Expanded curriculum

  4. New roles for teachers, students, parents, and technology

  5. A nurturing school culture

  6. New organizational structures

In Reinventing Schools: It’s Time to Break the Mold, 145 schools are listed that are aligned with the learner-centered paradigm. 

Examples of 3.0 School Systems

Hear what students at Minnesota New Country School have to say about project-based learning. 

If you know of a school system that relfect the six core ideas, please

email us here.

Educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom has shown individual tutoring can significantly improve student learning compared to a traditional approach. 


Image source: Adpated from

Watch a TED talk:

The key to success? "Grit" 

Individual School: Minnesota New Country 

School District:

Chugach School District 

School System:

Montessori School System

More Resources

Lee, D. (2014)

How to personalize learning in K-12 schools: Five essential design features.

Reigeluth, C. M. & Karnopp, J. R. (2013)

Chapters 2 and 3 in Reinventing schools:

It’s time to break the mold.

Software & Informaiton Industry Association (2010)

Innovate to educate: System

[Re]design for personalized learning.

Thomas et al. (2005)

The coolest school in America: How small learning communities are changing everything.

For more about attainment-based (or competency-based) education,

see iNACOL's "Competency Works" site.

The December 2015 issue of the Kappan has an article on the Minnesota New Country School. 

5. A nurturing school culture
  • Small school size.  Small learning communities help develop student responsibility, caring, and leadership, and they improve quality of life for staff.

  • Strong relationships.  Deep personal ties connect students, guides, parents, and the larger community.

  • Multi-year mentoring.  Each student has a mentor guide for a developmental stage (about three years).

  • Enjoyable learning.  Intrinsic motivation is nurtured by learning through authentic, engaging projects that are relevant to the students’ lives and interests.

  • Teacher (guide) learning.  Guides model life-long learning by learning with, from, about, and for students.

  • Family services.  The school collaborates with social service agencies to provide specialized services to families.

6. New organizational structures
  • Schools as clusters.  About 4-10 guides own their own small public school.

  • Learning centers.  Other guides own their own learning centers that students in all clusters can use to learn in different focus areas. Centers include “shopping-mall,” community, and mobile centers.

  • Choice for students and parents.  Students and their parents have some choice of guide (and consequently cluster and school building) as well as some choice for what and how they learn. Demand for guides influences their pay. Bureaucracy is eliminated.

  • Choice for guides.  Guides have some choice of which other guides to work with and how their school is run.

  • Administrative structures.  A Cluster Support Agency and a Learning Center Support Agency support (don’t control) the clusters and learning centers. A Consumer Aid Agency facilitates beneficial student and parent choices.

  • Governance structures.  Local district boards set and monitor community standards, adjudicate disputes, and advocate for clusters and learning centers. State boards and Education Departments set and monitor state standards, support local districts, and manage finances.

  • Collaboration with other family service systems.  The schools collaborate with many agencies to provide human services in school buildings.

  • A learning cooperative.  The schools are a learning hub where all members of the community may go to learn in exchange for donating skills and services.

© 2015 by The Systemic Change Research Group at Indiana University

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