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SparkNC featured in national report on the future of learning

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Written by Education Reimagined and The History Co:Lab, and commissioned by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a new national report explores where community-based learning ecosystems are emerging, and what tools/resources contribute to their readiness.

“While there is a growing movement among school leaders to reimagine learning in ways that center the child, prioritize equity, and recognize the integrated nature of community, most public school districts today struggle to see a path to transforming themselves into a learner centered ecosystem,” finds the report.

The report goes on to say, “Their leaders often see more barriers than opportunities and wonder if it is even possible. Much of the dynamism of ecosystems has been created and driven by individual social entrepreneurs and their teams, who have created solutions for an urgent problem they saw — usually designing, testing, and iterating the infrastructure elements by themselves over long periods of time and often outside of the constraints of the current education system.”

“They have done historically important
work, breaking barriers and norms to create what works for young people.”

— Report on “Ecosystems for the Future of Learning”

SparkNC is one of 13 learning communities featured in the report.


The website of SparkNC says, “SparkNC is a whole new way to do school.”

Led by leaders well known in the education space, Joe Ableidinger is the executive director, and Lynn Moody is the senior director of partnerships. SparkNC is an initiative of The Innovation Project (TIP), a nonprofit organization that aims to reimagine public education using equitable strategies.

SparkNC supports school districts across North Carolina to pilot new approaches to teaching and learning that accelerate student progress on pathways to careers in high-tech fields like artificial intelligence and machine learning, software development, computer systems engineering, and cybersecurity, according to the website.

The national report finds SparkNC is:

  • Learner-centered | SparkNC emphasizes the importance of personalized learning and strives to create learning experiences that are tailored to the needs and interests of individual students.
  • Data-driven | SparkNC collects and analyzes data on student outcomes, program participation, and other factors to inform programmatic decisions and identify areas for improvement.
  • Design-oriented | SparkNC will constantly improve the learner experience through data-driven analysis and feedback from learners and partners. The program is designed to continually build, expand, and refine the approach through iterative design.
  • Competency-based | SparkNC’s learning management system provides the explicit authority to award credit for a student stacking together enough units to achieve a semester or year’s worth of learning. This allows for flexible scheduling and personalized pathways for students. Learners progress at their own pace and are assessed on their ability to demonstrate mastery of specific skills and knowledge. This competency-based approach empowers learners to take ownership of their learning and to chart personalized pathways toward high-tech jobs that align with their unique interests and goals.
  • SparkLab Leader | The heartbeat of SparkNC is the SparkLab Leaders. A new and innovative role that is essential to the SparkNC ecosystem, the SparkLab Leader has a nontraditional opportunity to design and support learning experiences that are tailored to the needs of each and every learner. Working in collaboration with other SparkLab Leaders, district and school staff, the SparkNC team, and partners from the business community, the SparkLab Leader helps to bring cutting-edge learning experiences in high-tech fields to life.

Give the SparkNC team a shout on on Twitter, now X, at @wearesparknc.

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.