Student Agency & Personalization

What is Student Agency?

At DSISD, we define learner agency using the definition provided by Imaginarium: The learner’s ability – due to both internal capacity and external circumstances – to influence and ultimately direct his or her own learning.

DSISD utilizes Summit Public School’s Habits of Self Directed Learning to drive how we teach and actualize Student Agency with our students.

Student Agency promotes key outcomes* in students that we hope to see in DSISD graduates, including:

Learner Agency Skills Attributes

  • Choice
  • Voice

Intrinsic Motivation

Technology literacy
Information literacy
Critical thinking
Sense of belonging


Self-Directed Learning graphic

*Outcomes from: Imaginarium

For a report visit FSG – Self-Directed Learning at Summit Public Schools

SDL Lessons

What is Personalized Learning?

Personalized Learning is an approach to learning and instruction that is designed around individual learner readiness, strengths, needs and interests. Learners are active participants in setting goals, planning learning paths, tracking progress and determining how learning will be demonstrated. At any given time, learning objectives, content methods, and pacing are likely to vary from learner to learner as they pursue proficiency aligned to established standards. A fully personalized learning environment moves beyond both differentiation and individualization.

At DSISD, we collaborate with Imaginarium to Develop a shared understanding of Personalized Learning and how it connects to agency. See Imaginarim Personalized Learning Driver Model

The Driver Model is Denver Public Schools’ framework for Personalized Learning (PL), a major initiative to ensure equity for all learners. The primary drivers guide the educators and learners to develop a new type of learning experience for all learners that maximizes opportunities for learner control and achievement. It represents our current understanding about how PL can be implemented within a public school by describing teacher and learner actions along a progressive continuum from teacher driven to learner driven. The Driver Model is used primarily to:

  1. Support PL school design, goal setting, implementation and progress monitoring
  2. Support our research to understand learner outcomes as a result of personalized learning
  3. Communicate a consistent definition of PL across the district
  4. Guide teachers in providing the learner the opportunity to create learning experiences that are meaningfully authentic and relevant.

The Driver Model is not intended to be used as a roadmap or a prescription for action. Rather, it serves four purposes for educators thinking about their educational practices:

  1. Diagnostics:Teachers and leaders can use the Driver Model as tool for understanding where they currently are (both individually and collectively).
  2. Goal-setting: Teachers and leaders can use the Driver Model to set both short- and long-term goals and to characterize what the overall educational environment will become.
  3. Strategy development/action planning:The Driver Model provides a framework within which leaders can develop a whole-school strategy for change and teachers can identify action steps and develop plans to implement those steps.

Progress monitoring: Teachers and leaders can use the Driver Model to set targets and timelines, develop measurement plans and instruments, and identify the information they will need to gather in order to monitor progress toward meeting their goals.

Institute for Personalized Learning, Rickabaugh, 2017