About APLUS+

APLUS+, pronounced like A+, is the Association of Personalized Learning Schools & Services.

APLUS+ is both a movement to advance the Personalized Learning model as an essential and more flexible learning model to address the ever-diverse needs of 21st Century K-12 students, and a membership-based association that supports schools, education resource providers, and individuals who are interested in uniting around Personalized Learning.

APLUS+ advances the value and benefits of the Personalized Learning model for the growing number of public education students, who for various reasons, either need or choose a more flexible alternative learning delivery approach to the traditional, full-time classroom based learning model. APLUS+ has become the recognized voice in California to represent the Personalized Learning movement in K-12 education.

Since its founding in September 2002, APLUS+ has grown to a membership of more than forty Personalized Learning charter schools, collectively serving more than 35,000 K-12 students who reside in 40+ counties throughout California.

Both the Personalized Learning movement and APLUS+ were founded and are currently directed by Jeff Rice.

For more information about APLUS+ member services, please click on the following links for the membership type for which you are interested:

 
 

Jeff Rice's Opening Remarks from the APLUS+ 2012 Conference:

This year, the 2012-2013 school year, marks the completion of our 10 year anniversary in advancing the Personalized Learning model and movement, and the 10 year anniversary of our APLUS+ Network Conference.

It is your passion, commitment, and dedication to doing what is right for children in this movement that is making the real difference, one student at a time! This is not just APLUS+’s anniversary celebration, this is your anniversary celebration for your dedication to Personalized Learning as well. Take a moment to give yourselves applause for this monumental achievement!

Our conference theme this year is “Personalized Learning: The Jewel of 21st Century education”. La Jolla in Spanish means “the jewel”

So why is Personalized Learning the jewel of 21st century education?

Think about the current trends emerging in just the first decade of the 21st century.

  • Our society has evolved to unprecedented diversity among our population that can’t possibly be accommodated by a group teaching approach from a century old factory assembly line way of thinking that treats everyone the exact same way.
  • Education delivery technology emerging and advancing faster than we can keep up with
  • Access to information more broad-based and faster than imaginable.
  • We are entering the era of the Jetsons where we can see and communicate with each other on our computers and phones real time.
  • One on one and group meeting technology that is virtually driven
  • A renewed focus on and respect for the unique gifts, talents, aspirations, and challenges of people as individuals.
  • Companies across dozens of industries promoting their products and services as customized and personalized to each customer’s needs and preferences.

Yet the education system, unable to recognize that each student’s learning path to success is as unique as each individual student, lags far behind in recognizing the emerging trends of the 21st century and how to meet the needs of its customers. Because of the very individualized nature of how students learn, education should be leading these 21st century trends.

While in the past ten years, we are not yet at the point where education is leading the personalization movement in the 21st century, let us take a brief look at how far we have come in ten years.

  • We formed the first and to date only association whose mission and purpose is exclusively dedicated to advancing Personalized Learning and supporting schools and organizations that deliver personalized options for students.
  • We clearly defined Personalized Learning as a distinct educational delivery model, while making the definition flexible and adaptable enough for you to create your own expression of the model to meet the needs of your local communities.
  • We passed a California state resolution recognizing Personalized Learning as a valuable educational model to meet the diverse needs of 21st century students.
  • We’ve united as a movement to change our school websites, brochures, DVDs, and our school cultures around the educational model identity of Personalized Learning.
  • Collectively, we’ve had dozens of articles on the value, benefits, and successes of the Personalized Learning model in major newspapers, magazines, and other publications, and been interviewed on radio, TV, and held webinars.
  • We have demonstrated over ten+ years the tremendous value of providing an education delivery model that is student-centered, and that provides choice and flexibility in how, what, when, and where students learn, and that we can do it at the same cost as traditional classroom-based models.
  • We have debunked all of the stigmas that are tied to education delivery outside the classroom: that this model is only for “not normal kids”, that there is a lack of socialization for kids; that parent involved teaching or learning oversight is inferior; that lack of daily teacher oversight results in poor learning; that kids can only learn effectively within the four walls of a classroom; and that there is lack of student motivation and accountability when they are not in classrooms.
  • We’ve demonstrated proven success with students across all demographic, socio-economic, and academic proficiency spectrums.
  • Our membership is currently serving close to 10% of the entire California Charter School population, and the total charter school population in California being served by a personalized education is likely more than double that.
  • We’ve increased our school’s average academic performance as measured by the API by nearly 100 points since 2004, to just below 750.
  • The majority of our member schools are above the 700 API threshold, which is well above the average academic performance of traditional alternative school programs.
  • We’ve graduated and positively influenced and transformed the lives of tens of thousands of students to help them take their next step in becoming successful, productive 21st century citizens, many thousands of whom had been failing in traditional classrooms and may have never graduated had that system of education delivery remained their only option for learning.
  • Whereas ten years ago when we first started, few people understood the concept of Personalized Learning and the common response to my explanation was the deer in the headlights look, Personalized Learning is now in the mainstream lexicon.
  • We see variations of expression and creation of the concept of Personalized Learning emerging:
  • In traditional classrooms through differentiated instruction and flipped classroom one on one concepts
  • In traditional classroom based charter schools that are adding independent study and online learning options to become blended delivery programs
  • In technology applications where online courses, LMS platforms, and SIS designs are all becoming highly individualized and personalized for each school’s needs and each student’s unique learning path to success.
  • And beyond California, where state and provincial policies are slowly changing to recognize and embrace the value and benefits of Personalized Learning in places like:
  • British Columbia- where the education minister adopted a province-wide policy of Personalized Learning for every student.
  • In states like West Virginia, where they have launched a statewide initiative called Support for Personalized Learning.
  • In countries like the U.K., where the concept of personalization is gaining widespread acceptance. Although leave it to the Brits to spell Personalised with an “s” and not a “z”.

I could go on. Suffice it to say that we have come a long way in the past ten years and there is much for us to celebrate today.

But such dramatic transformation of ideas, of systems, and of consciousness to replace 100+ year old thinking about how education should be delivered takes time, commitment, and perseverance.

It reminds me of the movie Amazing Grace. Did anyone see it? It tells the inspiring story of how William Wilberforce, in 18th century British parliament, fought for years to abolish the slave trade, and eventually, after seemingly insurmountable resistance for decades, finally succeeded and changed the world. We face a similar challenge in the world of education.

So I have just shared with you only a small sampling of why Personalized Learning is the Jewel of 21st century education. But truly the ultimate reason that Personalized Learning is the jewel of 21st century education is the sparkle we see and experience in each and every student’s eyes, heart, and life that is guided and influenced for the better. There is no greater satisfaction and fulfillment than this.

So I ask you and invite you to join me in our continuing mission and amazing journey filled with grace to advance Personalized Learning for the next ten years with the goal of transforming education for the 21st century for the sake of our kids and the future generations in this great country of ours.

Jeff Rice's Opening Remarks from the APLUS+ 2011 Conference:

This year, the 2011-2012 school year, marks our 10th year anniversary in advancing the Personalized Learning model and movement. Our conference theme this year is “Personalized Learning: A Capitol Idea for 21st century education”. Thanks to the Brits for that old English phrase that links our conference theme to the State Capitol and means in today’s language “a totally awesome concept dude”.

Today we sit right in the shadow of a state legislature that passes laws every year that seem to do more harm than good in helping excellent, dedicated educators and administrators and service providers such as yourselves to serve students and help them to reach their own highest potential.

I live by an old adage: Too many rules destroy the spirit. That is to say that too many laws and restrictions imposed upon you discourages and often times beats down the inherent, natural, and expansive passion, dedication, and commitment that you experience in wanting to help and see each and every child succeed. These laws tend to handcuff you from being able to make local decisions that are in the best interest of students. At this stage of the game with so many students either failing outright or being chronically underserved by the system, legislators need to spend more time and effort unlegislating, deregulating, and freeing you and other quality schools from overreaching rules than they do in creating more rules for you to have to follow. I do hold the legislature at least partly accountable for the challenges that quality educators face today in trying to ensure that all students have the equal opportunity to succeed.

But we can at least take heart in the fact that our Personalized Learning model is the most flexible and individualized model in education today and that California law is one of the handful of states that allows for this kind of flexibility.

The Wall Street Journal published an article this past weekend entitled Charters and Minority Progress, that cited a recent study by the California Charter Schools Association that shows that African American students in charter schools are significantly outperforming their peers in traditional schools, ranging from 22 points better on the STAR test in Los Angeles, to 150 points better in San Francisco. And yet civil rights groups like the NAACP staunchly oppose education reform and charter schools, instead choosing to side with teachers unions and other status quo education power groups.

I also hold the status quo powers partly accountable and responsible for the failure of the current public education system.

How many of you believe that equal education opportunity for all students is a civil rights issue and maybe the #1 civil rights issue of our time?

Whether you believe that equal education opportunity is a civil rights issue or not, one overriding fact remains clear at least in my opinion.

Equal opportunity in education will never be realized until we stop labeling and categorizing students into different groups and programs. And I am not talking about ethnic or demographic groups either. I am talking about learning stigmas that the system labels onto any student that doesn’t fit its definition of norm. And that accounts for more than half of all students.

  • You’ve been expelled so you go over into that program.
  • You have a learning disorder so you go over into that program
  • You need an IEP so you go over into that program
  • You are several grades behind so you go over into that program
  • You can’t speak English so you go into that program
  • You just got pregnant girl. You now have to go into that program
  • You dare to be better than the classroom pace. OK, you go into that program
  • You can’t sit still in the classroom. Here take this drug and shut up and sit still and behave yourself or we’ll put you into that program
  • And on and on and on

This is a short list. Just think about how many different programs there are for students with “labels”.

And you don’t think that alone creates inequalities among students? You don’t think they carry those labels with them and that affects their outlook on themselves and their life? It is insane in my opinion.

So what is the great equalizer in education for the 21st century? What creates equal opportunity for all students in practice and delivery of education?

I believe it is Personalized Learning.

Why? Because it is the only model of education that truly honors each individual student for who they are.

It is the only model of education that truly supports each individual student to reach their own individual highest potential based upon who they are, upon their interests, passions, aspirations.

It is the only model of education that truly provides an individualized learning plan for each and every student, that allows each student to find his or her own unique path to reach the mountain top.

It is the only model of education that truly provides choice and flexibility in how, what, when and where students learn.

It is the only model of education that encourages student and parental participation in each child’s learning plan design, and puts students in the driver’s seat of their own education destiny.

Personalized Learning is the great equalizer for public education for the 21st century. And you need to get the word out as such in whatever ways you can. Tell your story. Share your inspiration. Make a difference in reaching more people.

Jeff Rice's Opening Remarks from the APLUS+ 2010 Conference:

When we talk about Catching the New Wave of Education, which is the theme for our 2010 conference, it suggests that there was an old wave. So, when applied to education, what is the new wave vs. the old wave?

Old Wave:

  • Late 19th – early 20th century factory, assembly line, industrial model
  • One size fits all
  • Students are products
  • Customers are a mish-mesh of adult lobbying groups and interests
  • Separate them into group categories for future life paths
  • Teaches to the middle of the bell curve that captures maybe 35-40% of the students and does not address the needs of the 60% that make up the lower end and upper ends, nor does it address the needs of an ever diversifying student population
  • Results: 1/3 drop out before they graduate from high school, and another 1/3 are ill prepared to either enter college or the workplace with the skills and knowledge expected of them to compete successfully at those higher levels

New Wave:

  • 21st century, students-first, service oriented model
  • Individualized and tailored to meet individual student needs and interests
  • Choices and flexibility in how, what, when, and where students learn
  • Students are the customers
  • Adults, schools, and communities collaborate and partner to serve the needs of the student customers
  • The product is the skills, knowledge, and critical thinking abilities needed for individuals to be productive, successful citizens and lifelong learners (sound like some of your mission statements?)

And what do we call this model of education?
Here’s a hint: It’s
Not homeschooling
Not independent study
Not hybrid
Not non-classroom instruction
Not site based instruction
Not group instruction

It’s Personalized Learning

And through technology, through what we know about how kids learn, and through a paradigm shift in consciousness about how, what, when and where to deliver education that is service oriented and not industrial oriented, Personalized Learning is the NEW wave that will drive how we approach learning through the 21st century.

The most successful service companies in the 21st century already are all about personalizing their products and services to meet the needs of their customers. Just listen to the TV and radio ads. They are all about personalizing to the needs of their customers. In a 21st century education model that is based upon serving our student customer, the same principles apply.

But I would like to suggest something bold to you about our collective movement here. We are not just catching the NEW wave of education. For us to catch it, it would already have been formed by someone else. But guess what? We are the ones who formed it in the first place. You all are responsible for creating the Personalized Learning model and movement. You are the NEW wave itself.

So why us? Why not the education establishment?

Let me summarize why in the following three quotes and examples:

The great wise man, Paramhansa Yogananda once said:
“We are hypnotized by our environments, and we can’t see beyond the horizon of our own experience.”

Another great wise man, Albert Einstein also said:

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Albert Einstein

IN 2008, we were honored to have as our keynote Mr. Curtis Johnson, co-author of the book “Disrupting Class”. In that book, the authors cite that across all industries, major changes have consistently occurred because of innovations that were developed, not from people within those industries, but from outside. They contend that the same will happen in the education industry, and in fact Curtis, during his visit, applauded our movement as being among those who are driving that innovative change.

So let me take this opportunity to honor, recognize, and applaud you all for your amazing 21st century work with your students and with your schools. You are true innovators and transformers of education for the 21st century. Thank you again for your passion, dedication, and commitment to the Personalized Learning model and movement.


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