ABCs to ATMs - The Case for Paying Students to Learn

Chapter 9: Pacing and Personalization

Embracing Diversity in Learning Styles

In a rapidly evolving educational landscape, there’s a growing understanding that students differ in how they learn, the pace at which they’re comfortable, and the subjects that captivate them. This chapter focuses on how Outstanda’s system champions these differences, providing a personalized, pace-agnostic approach to education while still aligning with traditional educational standards.

The Freedom of Autonomy 

Outstanda might suggest age and grade-appropriate materials, but the ultimate decision rests with the students, schools, and teachers. Students can follow divergent paths in learning as long as they meet local standards. This autonomy empowers them to engage with subjects that truly interest them and to do so at their own pace. The assessment system is non-punitive; students either pass or try again, reducing the anxiety often associated with traditional grading.

The Role of Teacher Verification

To prevent the system from being gamed—students endlessly retaking assessments until they pass—teachers play a critical role. They verify that a student has genuinely engaged with the subject matter and is prepared to reattempt an assessment. This adds an additional layer of rigor and ensures that the learning is authentic.

School-Based Flexibility 

Outstanda is designed to augment, not replace, existing educational systems. Schools can select which learning gigs to offer, set grade-level requirements, decide the criteria for graduation, and even dictate the rigor needed to unlock an assessment.

The Lifelong Value of Certificates

For every learning gig completed, Outstanda issues a certificate co-signed by the school. These certificates form a permanent part of a student’s academic history. How they factor into traditional grading or graduation requirements is up to the individual schools and educational governing bodies.

These digital certificates are signed by Outstanda as the assessment administrator, the teacher as the project verifier, and an administrator or board member as a senior representative of the school. The certificate comes with a log of the student’s progress through lessons, and the opportunity to score consistently high and pass the learning gig with honors.

Accelerated Learning: The College Course Advantage

One of the most exciting features of Outstanda is its inclusion of college-level courses. These courses offer higher financial rewards and the opportunity for academic acceleration. Like Advanced Placement (AP) courses, these college-level courses are proctored and verified, and a growing number of universities are beginning to recognize them for credit. This provides highly motivated students the chance to begin their higher education journey earlier, potentially reducing the time and cost of college down the road.

The Disconnect with Traditional Grade Levels

Within Outstanda’s system, the traditional concept of grade levels is pointless. Instead, students are encouraged to focus on their areas of interest and work at their own pace. For some, this will be accelerated, and for some, it will be at a slower pace. 

Schools retain the authority to set academic standards, providing a balanced ecosystem where personalization and standardization coexist. Ultimately, the school is the issuer of diplomas, and their standards must be met.

Pioneering a New Educational Paradigm

Outstanda represents more than just a shift in educational technology; it embodies a philosophical change in how we view education. By blending personal autonomy with structured verification, it creates a system that is both liberating and rigorous. 

Students have more accountability for behavior and learning, as well as having the reward for work well done in the form of payments.

We raised out daughter free from grade levels. At 14 she was in college full time. Every adult she would meet would first ask what grade she was in. She sometimes seemed a bit slow because she could not answer their question.

Ron McDaniel

Founder, Outstanda

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