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What should organizational structure be like in the new paradigm of education?  On my home page, I talked about how grade levels need to give way to achievement levels, grades need to give way to certification of achievement, and courses should give way to projects.  Organizational structures are a major part of the vision of a learner-centered educational system, along with learner-centered instructional design and assessment.


Our latest thinking is represented in the book shown on the right.  Here, I summarize five fundamental principles related to organizational structures. 

1. Professional Organizational Structure

We call teaching a profession, but we do not treat teachers as professionals.  Other professionals, like architects, accountants, and lawyers, can if they wish work in partnerships in which they control their work and make all managerial decisions.  These firms tend to be small, avoiding the need for expensive bureaucracy.  The professionals are not only responsible for serving the best interests of their clients, but are also empowered to do so.  Could this work in education?

As we document in Vision and Action, this kind of organizational structure is already appearing in public education.  The Minnesota New Country School is a case in point.  It is one of over 100 "teacher-powered schools" in 17 states, more than half of which are in public school districts. Research shows that students in such schools perform significantly better on state tests.  Also, teachers' quality of life is better.  And this is being done in public school districts! And without a bureaucracy controlling them, districts can save a lot of money.

2. Small School Size

Small schools make it much easier to create a caring, personalized learning environment.  They also make it much easier for teachers to run their own schools.  In effect, they empower both students and teachers, and they dramatically reduce discipline problems and bullying, among other benefits.

It used to be that small schools were disadvantaged by (1) difficulty affording such facilities as libraries, media centers, gymnasiums, auditoriums, and more; and (2) difficulty affording to offer a large variety of courses.  But technology can eliminate both of these disadvantages.  And small schools usually operate more efficiently and with less bureaucracy.

3. Student Choice, Incentives, and Accountability

The current bureaucratic accountability system with its high-stakes tests severely constrains flexibility and innovation.  Based on how other professionals are held accountable, we propose a choice-based accountability system where students choose among many small public schools (many of which share the same neighborhood school building), and the public funds follow the student. This system is designed in such a way as to achieve greater equity than the current system.  


If teachers are no able to attract students, their micro school runs short on revenues.  The teachers run their micro schools, just as other professionals, like accountants and lawyers, run their own firms and make all their own decisions, subject to codes of ethical practice, which are established by the school district or state.

4. Administrative Structures

The districtwide administrative system plays a servant role rather than a command-and-control role with its micro schools, for most of its budget comes from the schools it serves.  It serves as landlord for the schools, charging them rent for their facilities, and it is contracted by each micro school to provide support services (accounting, purchasing, janitorial, etc.).  It also supports the incubation of new micro schools as less popular micro schools disband.

5. Governance Structures

The choice-based decision-making and accountability system changes the role of the school board to more like a regulatory agency. It sets and monitors the attainment of community standards (learning outcomes) much like a chartering organization does now, and it establishes and enforces a small number of policies and regulations that promote equity, diversity, excellence, and other community values.

Books Related to Organization


The following books address some aspects of the organiza-tional structure of schools and districts, but Vision and Action represents my latest and most comprehensive thinking about the issue.

Reigeluth, C.M., & Karnopp, J.R.  (2013).  Reinventing Schools: It’s Time to Break the Mold.  Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.  (AECT Outstanding Book Award)

Olson, J., Ryan, D.F., & Reigeluth, C.M. (1996).  Systemic Restructuring in Education: A Selected Bibliography.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Reigeluth, C.M., & Garfinkle, R.J. (Eds.)  (1994).  Systemic Change in Education.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.  ISBN: 0-87778-271-7

Reigeluth, C.M., Banathy, B.H., & Olson, J.R.  (Eds.)  (1993). Comprehensive Systems Design: A New Educational Technology. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Chapters Related to Organization


The following chapters in edited books address some aspects of the organizational structure of schools and districts.

Aslan, S., & Reigeluth, C.M. (2019).  The Minnesota New Country School: Systemic change thinking in action. In M. Spector, B. Lockee & M. Childress (Eds.), Learning, design, and technology: An international compendium of theory, research, practice, and policy. New York, NY: Springer.  DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-17727-4_102-1

Reigeluth, C.M., Myers, R.D., & Lee, D. (2017).  The learner-centered paradigm of education (Chapter 1, pp. 5-32).  In C. Reigeluth, B. Beatty & R. Myers (Eds.), Instructional-design theories and models, Volume IV: The learner-centered paradigm of education.  New York: Routledge.

Reigeluth, C.M., & Garfinkle, R.J.  (1994). Envisioning a new system of education (Chapter 6, pp. 59-70) In C. Reigeluth & R. Garfinkle (Eds.), Systemic Change in Education.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.  ISBN: 0-87778-271-7


New Book!     2020
Vision and Action:
Reinventing Schools through Personalized Competency-Based Education 
By Charles M. Reigeluth & Jennifer R. Karnopp

The purpose of this book is to help teams of educators (teachers, administrators, staff, coaches, facilitators, and even board members), parents, and students to transform their school systems to personalized competency-based education.  We offer proven ideas and methods both for a vision of PCBE and for the action (or process) for trans-forming your school or district to that vision.

Here is a great video about how the "No Child Left Behind" Act failed on every level.  It shows why systemic (paradigm) change is needed.

Journal Articles Related to Organization (Vision)


The following journal articles address some aspects of the organizational structure of schools and districts.

Lee, D., Huh, Y., Lin, C-Y., Reigeluth, C.M., & Lee, E.  (2021).  Differences in personalized learning practice and technology use in high- and low-performing learner-centered schools in the United States.  Educational Technology Research and Development, 69, 1221–1245.

Reigeluth, C.M., & Karnopp, J.R. (2020).  Vision and action: Two sides of the coin for systemic change in educational systems.  TechTrends, 64(5), 769-778.  DOI: 10.1007/s11528-020-00528-x

Huh, Y., & Reigeluth, C.M. (2017).  Online K-12 teachers’ perceptions and practices of supporting self-regulated learning Journal of Educational Computing Research, 55(8), 1129-1153. DOI: 10.1177/0735633117699231

Huh, Y., & Reigeluth, C.M. (2017).  Self-regulated learning: The continuous-change conceptual framework and a vision of new paradigm, technology system, and pedagogical support Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 46(2), 191-214.  DOI: 10.1177/0047239517710769

Aslan, S., Reigeluth, C.M., & Mete, S.E.  (2016).  Transforming classrooms into learning studios: What does it take to make classrooms a living space?  Educational Technology, 56(5), 35-41.

Aslan, S., & Reigeluth, C.M. (2016).  Investigating "the coolest school in America": How technology is used in a learner-centered school.  Educational Technology Research & Development, 64(6), 1107-1133.  DOI 10.1007/s11423-016-9450-9

Aslan, S., & Reigeluth, C.M.  (2015).  Examining the challenges of learner-centered education Phi Delta Kappan, 97(4), 63-68.  DOI 10.1177/0031721715619922

Lee, D., Huh, Y., & Reigeluth, C.M.  (2015).  Collaboration, intragroup conflict, and social skills in project-based learning.  Instructional Science, 43, 561-590.  DOI 10.1007/s11251-015-9348-7

Aslan, S., Reigeluth, C.M., & Thomas, D.  (2014).  Transforming education with self-directed project-based learning: The Minnesota New Country School. Educational Technology, 54(3), 39-42.

Bell, H.H., & Reigeluth, C.M.  (2014).  Paradigm change in military education and training.  Educational Technology, 54(3), 52-56.

Reigeluth, C.M.  (2014).  The learner-centered paradigm of education: Roles for technology.  Educational Technology, 54(3), 18-21.

Reigeluth, C.M., & Duffy, F.M.  (2014).  Paradigm change in education: Introduction to special issue.  Educational Technology, 54(3), 3-21.

Simsek, A. (2013). Interview with Charles M. Reigeluth: Applying instructional design to educational reform. Contemporary Educational Technology, 4(1), 81-86.

Watson, S.L., & Reigeluth, C.M.  (2013).  Living the vision: A disadvantaged and marginalized alternative school’s perspective on school culture and educational change.  International Journal of Education, 5(2), 53-74.  DOI 10.5296/ije.v5i2.3256

Watson, W.R., Watson, S.L., & Reigeluth, C.M.  (2013).  Education 3.0: Breaking the mold with technology.  Interactive Learning Environments, DOI 10.1080/10494820.2013.764322.

An, Y.J., & Reigeluth, C.M.  (2011).  Creating technology-enhanced, learner centered classrooms: K-12 teacher beliefs, perceptions, barriers, and support needs.  Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 28(2), 54-62.  DOI 10.1080/21532974.2011.10784681

Aslan, S., Huh, Y., Lee, D., & Reigeluth, C.M.  (2011).  The role of personalized integrated educational systems in the information-age paradigm of education. Contemporary Educational Technology, 2(2), 95-117.

Reigeluth, C.M.  (2010).  Technology and the new paradigm of education. Contemporary Educational Technology, 1(1), 84-86.

Reigeluth, C.M. (2011).  An instructional theory for the post-industrial age. Educational Technology, 51(5), 25-29.

Duan, M.J., Pei, X.N., & Li, X. (2009). A paradigm shift in the educational system: A dialogue with Dr. Charles M. Reigeluth - An international instructional design expert.  China Educational Technology, 268, 1-6.

Watson, S.L., & Reigeluth, C.M.  (2008).  The learner-centered paradigm of education.  Educational Technology, 48(5), 42-48.  Also published as Watson, S.L., & Reigeluth, C.M. (2010). The learner-centered paradigm of education.  In F. M. Duffy (Ed.) (2010), Dream! create! sustain!: Mastering the art & science of transforming school systems (pp. 288-315). Leading Systemic School Improvement Series, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Reigeluth, C.M. (Ed.)  (2006).  Special issue on systemic change.  Tech Trends, 50(2), 15-61. Intro,  Section 1,  Section 2,  Section 3,  Section 4,  Section 5,  Section 6, Section 7.

Reigeluth, C.M.  (2003).  New instructional theories and strategies for a knowledge-based society.  Educational Technology International, 5(1), 63-75. 

Sheng, Q., & Cheng, J.  (2003).  New perspective needed for the design of teaching: Interview with Professor Charles M. Reigeluth.  Global Education, 32(7), 3-5.

Reigeluth, C.M.  (1999).  Visioning public education in America.  Educational Technology, 39(5), 50-55.

Reigeluth, C.M.  (1997).  Educational standards: To standardize or to customize learning?  Phi Delta Kappan, 79(3), 202-206.

Lee, I., & Reigeluth, C.M.  (1994).  Empowering teachers for new roles in a new educational system.  Educational Technology, 34(1), 61-72.

Reigeluth, C.M., & Garfinkle, R.J.  (1992).  Envisioning a new system of education. Educational Technology, 32(11), 17-23.

Norris, C.A., & Reigeluth, C.M.  (1991).  Themes for change: A look at systemic restructuring experiences.  Educational Horizons, 69(2), 90-96.

Reigeluth, C.M. (1987).  The search for meaningful reform: A third-wave educational system.  Journal of Instructional Development, 10(4), 3-14.

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