Access to Opportunities: A Student-Centered Approach

About This Project

The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University’s College of Education conducted site visits at four schools (Ed Tech High School, Washington High School, P.S. Jones Middle School, and John Small Elementary School) in Beaufort County, North Carolina. Beaufort County Schools (BCS) is a rural school district located in the southeastern part of the state with 14 schools and 6,673 students. Our team interviewed teachers, students, and administrators in Beaufort to learn how BCS are providing equitable learning opportunities for all students.

Equitable Learning Opportunities for All Students

Some districts view student-centered learning as an intervention or differentiation. They seek to utilize student-centered learning when a student is not successful in a traditional school or classroom environment. However, BCS does not see this only as a way to address deficits, but instead Beaufort is focused on creating new modes of student-centered learning for all K-12 students. This radical shift away from a more “traditional” method of education is grounded in equity. For BCS, equity isn’t a buzzword or something optional; it is an imperative. Central to individualized student-centered learning is the conviction that learning is for all students. Beaufort seeks to provide unique pathways for students, creating a culture where students can pursue their own interests and learn in ways that meet their own needs.

For Ms. Padgett, it’s personal. This is where she went to school and where her children are currently enrolled. When she thinks about the changes she’s seen in Beaufort County, she smiles. She thinks about how the district is now using virtual academies to meet the needs of more learners and is partnering with homeschool and private school communities to provide part-time services. She recognizes that parents can choose where to send their children and she wants to make sure they choose BCS.

Questions to Consider:

  • How do we support the individual needs of each student to identify and provide what they need to thrive in life?
  • What opportunities are currently afforded to some of your students that could be expanded to all of your students?
  • Who are the learners in your district? Students? Teachers? Parents?
  • How are you creating opportunities for all of them?

Authors and Contributors