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Perspective | A partnership between REL Southeast and NC DPI: Personalized learning regional workshops

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI) — in conjunction with staff from the Regional Education Laboratory Southeast — will begin to tour the state on Sept. 11 to hear from educators about personalized learning.

What’s a Regional Education Laboratory?

The Regional Education Laboratory (REL) Southeast is one of 10 RELs across the country, which are organized by the US Department of Education based on region. RELs conduct educational research across various domains and work with practitioners and policymakers to develop and use research to improve academic outcomes for students. The REL Southeast — including North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama — partners with state education agencies, local school districts, schools, and other education stakeholders across the region.

REL Southeast and NCDPI: A partnership

North Carolina’s REL Southeast Alliance — which includes NC DPI — is run by Laura Knapp of RTP-based independent nonprofit research institute, RTI International. The Alliance, “Measuring Success Through Competency-Based Learning,” focuses its work on competency-based education and how K-12 and postsecondary can implement more personalization in their teaching and learning models.

Competency-based education (CBE) is one way to achieve personalized learning for students. The REL Alliance defined CBE in an effort to create consistency with partners and stakeholders:

As a personalized learning approach, CBE provides a flexible and engaging learning environment in which progression is based on mastery of explicit learning objectives, or competencies, as demonstrated through evidence of student learning, rather than the time spent in a course/topic.

The state’s prioritization of personalized learning makes them a great partner with the REL Southeast who is already doing work in North Carolina’s schools to advance CBE. In 2018, the REL Southeast entered a partnership with NC DPI that included coaching sessions for North Carolina teachers, administrators, and NCDPI staff to recognize CBE practices and identify implementation challenges; discuss potential solutions; and begin to develop implementation resources for statewide CBE implementation.

Personalized learning regional workshops

This fall, REL Southeast will host a series of regional workshops to develop an awareness of personalized learning. We hope that the workshops will allow participants to explore relevant information about personalized learning, review examples of personalized learning, and identify their own personal next steps in planning and implementation of personalized learning within their own contexts. Participants will also hear firsthand from NCDPI Digital Teaching and Learning staff about their four pillars of personalized learning. NC DPI introduced their pillars in 2017 with the first release and approval of their statewide Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan.

There will be eight regional workshops in total that will take place across the state with one workshop in each of the North Carolina State Board of Education regions. Workshops will be day-long and are open to district leaders, school leaders, and classroom teachers and other school-based educators who are interested in advancing the work of personalized learning in their contexts.

The regional workshop schedule is listed below. If you or someone you know is interested in attending, please use this link to register.

Meeting Date



September 11


Lincoln County Schools
201 Jeb Seagle Drive
Lincolnton, NC 28092

September 12


West Concord Resource Center
509 West Concord Street
Morganton, NC 28655

September 16


Winston-Salem Forsyth Ed Bldg.
4801 Bethania Station Road
Winston-Salem, NC 27105

October 2


PD & Family Engagement Center
415 S. Virginia Street
Goldsboro, NC 27530

October 3


BTW Educational Resource Ctr
66 Booker T Washington Road
Clarkton, NC 28433

October 9


Beaufort County EdTech Center
820 Bridge Street
Washington, NC 27889

October 10

North Central

Franklin County Schools
53 West River Road
Louisburg, NC 27549

October 17


Buncombe County Schools
175 Bingham Road
Asheville, NC 28806


Allison Redden

Allison Redden (formerly Stewart) works as an education research analyst with RTI International’s Center for Education Services (CES). A former public school educator in the Triangle, Allison participated in several teacher leadership programs in North Carolina, including the Kenan Fellowship and the Education Policy Fellowship Program. She was the Public School Forum’s Beginning Teacher Leadership Network Coordinator for Wake County before moving to Tennessee to pursue her Master of Public Policy at Vanderbilt, specializing in K-12 Education Policy. She is interested in engaging in conversations and actions to advance equity, while navigating the intersections of education, economics, and policy. Redden is a proud product of North Carolina public schools, from Cabarrus County Schools to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.