Pathways to Personalization: A Framework for School Change

by Shawn C. Rubin and Cathy Sanford 

Pathways to Personalization offers an innovative five-step framework to help school leaders and teacher teams design and implement blended and personalized learning initiatives based on local needs and interests. The book draws on principles of improvement science and change management, as well as work in nearly five hundred classrooms, to help educators define their own rationale for personalized learning; it guides them as they establish small pilot initiatives, determine criteria for success, evaluate their efforts, and create a path for replication and scale. Filled with activities and templates for organizing information and student feedback, the book also includes many examples of how district leaders, school principals, and teachers have successfully navigated the change process to create more student-centered classrooms.

Shifting a school or district to offer more personalized learning requires a great deal of commitment, passion, and energy, but it also demands a strategic process. Pathways to Personalization meets this need by providing a field-tested road map for educators seeking ways to meet the academic and emotional needs of all students, and to empower them to take charge of their own learning.


"With its emphasis on the local, this thorough and engaging book provides readers with both a vision of what’s possible and a consideration of the process needed to achieve such a vision."

— Penny Bishop, Teachers College Record

"A must-read for skeptics and champions of personalized learning alike. This book moves past mere rhetoric about personalization to explore real classrooms trying to reinvent themselves. Weaving together history, philosophy, personal experience, and stories about the hard work of educators on the frontlines, Rubin and Sanford offer a compelling framework for rethinking school as we know it."

—Julia Freeland Fisher, director of education research, Clayton Christensen Institute

Shawn C. Rubin is the chief education officer at Highlander Institute. Cathy Sanford leads research and development efforts at Highlander Institute.

Note: Pathways to Personalization was published in 2018, prior to our organizational rebrand as Throughline Learning. The book's framework and insights still provide the foundation for our leadership practices. Learn more about our inclusive change process here.