About First Things First

Core 3

Create Personalized Learning Communities for Students and Adults

Students will reach higher and work harder when they feel known and valued as individuals. In this, they are no different from their teachers and families. Personalized learning communities can become the foundation for greater student achievement by building on this simple principle. These communities put young people and adults in a position to know each other well, hold each other responsible, and set clear and high expectations for how each of them will contribute to student success.

But not just any learning community will do. They must be clear in their purpose of academic achievement among all students and structured to achieve that one goal. In supporting the formation of over 170 personalized learning communities in 35 high schools and eight middle schools nationwide, IRRE has found that certain characteristics greatly increase their chances of success:

Serving all students in the building, not just some.

  • Encompassing approximately 350 students each — small enough to personalize but large enough to house teachers across core and some elective subjects.
  • Allowing students to stay in their communities for all the years they are in the school.
  • Avoiding tracking that would segregate higher performing students in some communities and struggling students in others.
  • Keeping students and teachers together in their community as much as possible during the school day.
  • Integrating and protecting common planning time for the community’s faculty as part of the school schedule — and then helping faculty use it effectively.

IRRE provides expert and experienced support to schools committed to putting these conditions in place.


To talk about creating personalized learning communities, contact:

An IRRE Partner Practitioner

Robert Torres
SLC Coordinator/Teacher
Weslaco East High School


Letty Garza
SLC Coordinator/Teacher
Weslaco East High School