GIPS approves to proposals to help personalized education

GRAND ISLAND, Neb.-- Grand Island Public Schools may be adding new school buildings, but how they teach in the classroom is also making significant changes.

"It is about personalized learning. It's about making sure that every kid gets what they need in order to be successful," said Josh McDowell, chief academic officer.

Beginning this year, the school system will use the Star 360 program. It will allow teachers to monitor certain students struggling in the classroom, identify their weakness and develop ways to fix it.

"Right now, we have very broad tests that tell us a child is struggling in reading. It's sort of like the doctor telling you that you're sick, but it doesn't give you any specifics and doesn't let you really work on the specific problem. That's a shift. It's really getting down to the individual student level," said Amy Mancini, director of curriculum.

GIPS will also have a consultant group on board this year, to help them develop a prep academy within the high school by the 2018-2019 school year. The goal is to get students a head start on the careers they'd like to pursue.

"If I'm a student that's interested in business, marketing or information technology, I can then as a sophomore move into that preparatory academy, where my English courses and my math courses are really geared towards my interests in information technology," said McDowell.

By personalizing education for students, GIPS hopes that it will further motivate them in the classroom.

"When I was a kid, motivation was giving you a gold star. Now, motivation is different for every kid," said Mancini. "When students are able to choose and pick things that are personally meaningful to them, they're much more likely to learn it. They're much more likely to keep it long-term."