AltSchool is 100% focused on our students.
Our personalized learning approach puts each child at the center of everything we do. Smaller classroom student:teacher ratios, coupled with state-of-the-art classroom design and technology, enable a flexible learning environment that mixes individual, group and experiential learning.
AltSchool is dynamic.
Our analytical approach and core strengths in innovation combine educational best practices with the latest tools. Our educators build learning experiences that are adaptive at their core and keep our children engaged.
AltSchool is rigorous.
Students learn best when they are interested. By personalizing learning to student needs and passions, we can challenge them more. Students learn at a level that pushes them, but not so much that they disengage. We also provide frequent quantitative and qualitative feedback to ensure that students are prepared for success after their AltSchool years.
AltSchool is diverse.
We believe that children benefit from diversity and that all children deserve an excellent, child-centered education. You can help us bring AltSchool to more children by donating to our need-based tuition assistance fund.
AltSchool is engaged with the community.
Learning is not just about what happens inside the classroom. We connect students with experts and institutions in the community to enrich the learning experience and keep them wanting more.
AltSchool is a partnership.
We believe it is vital to have parents integrally involved in their child’s education. We measure parent satisfaction and offer tools so that parents can see and understand how their students are learning at any point in time - not just at parent/teacher conferences.
AltSchool is fun.
When students drive their own learning, they become motivated by passion and creativity -- and learn to be that way throughout their lives. They also simply love going to school. We love watching them show up early on Mondays, ready to dive right in.
Parents are AltSchool’s partners in their child’s education.
That said, parents have busy lives -- so AltSchool makes it easy for them to stay involved and informed. Through simple technology solutions for communication, registration, payments and permission slips, AltSchool helps families spend more time on the things that matter most -- and that most benefit their children.
AltSchool works with families on after-school care and transportation options to make school convenient. Scheduling constraints due to additional commitments can be accommodated and family travel is encouraged as an opportunity for children to learn outside the classroom.
AltSchool parents are integral to the reimagined school experience. AltSchool looks to them for feedback on what is going well and what can be improved. Aside from simply listening, AltSchool explicitly measures different dimensions of parent satisfaction, sharing the results in a transparent way and tracking progress over time.
AltSchool has an open door policy and welcomes parents to the classroom. However, volunteer hours are not requested or required. AltSchool has a full team working in the background so that parents don't have to worry about mandatory volunteering.
Learn more about how we seek to meet the needs of families from Peter, our Head of Parent Satisfaction.
Learn more about why community matters at AltSchool.
AltSchool currently has four locations in San Francisco. We are expanding to Brooklyn and Palo Alto for the 2015-2016 school year, including two additional locations in San Francisco. Please sign up here if you want to be notified about future location openings.
Please select your location to learn more, including an overview of our admissions calendar and tuition information:
San Francisco Addresses
AltSchool HQ and Middle School
1245 Folsom St
San Francisco, CA 94103
AltSchool Alamo Square
Elementary (K - 5)
735 Fell St
San Francisco, CA 94117
Lower Elementary (TK - 1)
2265 3rd St
San Francisco, CA 94107
AltSchool Fort Mason
Elementary and Middle School (K - 8)
3741 Buchanan St
San Francisco, CA 94123
AltSchool Potrero Hill (Targeted opening Jan 2016)
Elementary and Middle School (TK - 8)
99 Missouri St
San Francisco, CA 94107
*Accepting applications for TK-K for Jan 2016 and TK-5th for September 2016
AltSchool Yerba Buena (Opening date TBD)
Elementary and Middle School (TK - 8)
300 4th St
San Francisco, CA 94117
*Accepting applications for TK-8th for September 2016
Palo Alto Address: Coming Fall 2015
AltSchool Palo Alto
Elementary and Middle School (TK - 6)
930 Emerson Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Brooklyn Address: Coming Fall 2015
AltSchool Brooklyn Heights
Elementary School (PreK - 3)
84 Montague St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
What is AltSchool?
AltSchool is a collaborative network of micro-schools that uses outstanding teachers, deep research and innovative tools to offer a personalized, whole child learning experience for the next generation.
What makes AltSchool unique?
At each of our schools, we listen and adapt to the specific needs of our students, teachers and parents. We develop Personalized Learning Plans to cultivate each child academically, socially and emotionally. To that end, we work with partners in the community to offer a holistic experience that takes advantage of the best people and places that surrounding neighborhoods have to offer. All of this is made possible through the AltSchool supporting network, which works continuously to drive true innovation in education.
What is a micro-school?
AltSchool micro-schools are small learning communities with approximately 80-150 students. Students of mixed ages are divided among several classrooms, and each classroom has a low student to teacher ratio. Because of their small size, micro-schools are flexible in adapting to the needs of teachers, parents, and students.
Why build a network?
AltSchool is built on a scalable framework of centralized resources including product development, engineering, operations and human resources. Through collaboration and innovation, our schools improve as they grow, while still maintaining a warm, small-school environment at each location. Every student’s experience improves as additional students are added to the network because as we try new ideas in our classrooms, we share best practices across the network. Since we opened in 2013, we’ve expanded from 1 to 4 schools, with more opening in the Fall both in San Francisco, CA as well as Palo Alto, CA and Brooklyn, NY. As our micro-school network grows from hundreds to thousands of enrolled students in the years to come, AltSchool will transform to provide a continuously higher quality learning experience for all.
Who is AltSchool?
AltSchool’s founding team includes experienced educators and technology leaders, united around the mission of delivering personalized education to all children. Our educators have many years of experience in teaching and leading schools, with deep expertise in learning differences, gifted education, and cross-cultural education.
How are you funded?
AltSchool is privately funded by venture and philanthropic sources. Our funding gives us the resources and flexibility to build an alternative school system that can quickly scale to serve increasing numbers of families. AltSchool's corporate functions, including technology R&D and school system operations, are funded by venture sources. AltSchool campuses, including teacher salaries and campus operations, are funded by tuition. Philanthropy and other resources fund tuition assistance.
What is tuition, and what is included in tuition?
Tuition depends on several factors, including geographic location and specific program costs. Tuition includes all activities, field trips, technology devices, and classroom supplies. Lunch and personalizable co-curricular programs offered before and after school are available for an additional fee. See location specific details for San Francisco, Palo Alto and Brooklyn.
Is financial aid available?
AltSchool wants to provide access to an excellent child-centered education to as many students as possible and believes that all children benefit from being part of a diverse community. Need-based tuition assistance is available and we are happy to discuss options as part of the application process.
What is the San Francisco school calendar for 2014-2015?
Please see location pages for the most up-to-date school calendar.
What are school hours?
We understand that flexibility is important for families. Families can drop off their children at school anytime between 8:00am and 9:00am for no additional fee. The school day ends at 3:15 for lower and upper elementary and 3:30pm for middle school. If your child has special scheduling needs beyond this flexible schedule, we’re happy to work with you to try to accommodate them.
Is after-school care available?
We offer co-curricular programs (AltExplore, seasonal sessions, and academic focus) at each of our locations from the end of the school day through 6pm daily.
Families do not need to sign up in advance for AltExplore and students may join as needed or in combination with other co-curricular offerings. The program is designed to support children’s need for unstructured play and exploration. Supervised by AltSchool educators, activities may include free-choice or Playlist time, outdoor play, as well as collaborative science, art, or tinkering projects depending on student interest. The cost for the 2015-16 school year is $12 per hour.
AltSchool’s seasonal co-curricular sessions are taught by specialists and run for 10-14 weeks, allowing students to explore new subjects, dig deeper into their existing passions and interests, and build on previous experiences. These programs take place before school during the 8-9am drop-off window and after school through 6pm. Content is determined at each site based on family preferences and educator availability, but may include coursework in foreign language, performing arts, sports, environmental education, STEM, and visual arts.
These co-curricular programs offer families a wide range of choices to truly personalize a student’s day. Content is tailored to each group’s interest and abilities, and children can form meaningful relationships with peers from other classrooms and AltSchool sites.
In most cases, a minimum number of enrolled students will be required for a program to move forward. Pricing depends on the offering, as well as on meeting frequency (once to multiple times a week), but ranges from $100-$500 per month.
For families looking for individualized support with an academic focus, AltSchool offers one-on-one or small-group sessions with members of the education support team. Families can also schedule blocks of time for external support providers to work with individual or small groups of students.
Do you have recess?
AltSchool students have recess every day and participate in daily outdoor activities, visiting parks throughout the city. Our students also have dedicated physical fitness time three to five times per week, which may include yoga, dance, or other movement classes. Additional athletics and movement offerings are a part of our co-curricular program before and after school.
What food is served at AltSchool?
Children bring their own lunches to school. We also have a variety of nutritious snacks available throughout the day. We are open to starting lunch programs if families are interested.
How are allergies handled?
AltSchool is a “nut sensitive” school. While we do not prohibit nuts from being on campus, all considerations will be give to protect students with nut allergies. Educators will work with families and our Safety Team to develop personalized safety plans for each student with food allergies.
Do you have summer school?
We are offering Summer @ AltSchool in San Francisco for summer 2015. In addition, we are considering year-round school models for the future.
How do you handle safety / security?
AltSchool has a Head of Safety who has formalized processes for emergency situations as well as safety procedures and protocols for all aspects of the AltSchool experience, including inside the classroom, on trips to the park, and on field trips.
How do you develop a personalized curriculum?
When a child joins AltSchool, we create a Learner Portrait for him or her. The Learner Portrait catalogs interests, passions, strengths, opportunities, and learning strategies that work best. It also reflects where the student currently is on the continuum of learner objectives that we have set for all AltSchool students and is continually updated over time. Based on the Learner Portrait and global AltSchool Learning Objectives, our educators (in collaboration with family and students) create a Personalized Learning Plan (PLP). The PLP is reviewed quarterly and informs the playlist activities a student sees each week. Once goals are mastered, educators set new goals for the student.
What is an AltSchool Playlist?
The AltSchool Playlist is a personalized set of activities for a student to complete, usually on a weekly basis. It includes basic assignments, individual, small group and whole class assignment, links to external learning resources to be integrated into the student’s curriculum, and much more. Playlist time begins with our youngest students and increases as students progress through AltSchool.
What role do standards play at AltSchool?
AltSchool’s learning objectives draw from a variety of standards and metrics as a framework for instructional design. Our elementary and middle school instruction is informed by the Common Core, National Council of the Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), Next Generation Science Standards, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), among others.
What co-curricular experiences do you offer?
As part of the school day, students get an interdisciplinary curriculum that includes the visual and performing arts, STEM, physical fitness, and outdoor and experiential learning. Before and after school, AltSchool also offers for an additional fee a wide range of co-curricular programs for families to personalize to fit their needs. These offerings include art, music, athletics, tinkering, and foreign language, as well as our drop-in AltExplore program and time for independent study or one-on-one tutoring and support. We personalize co-curricular offerings at each location based on student and parent preferences, as well as community availability. These programs are regularly adjusted based on feedback. Where possible, co-curriculars are integrated into students’ work during the school day.
What type of assessment happens at AltSchool?
Families receive regular updates on student progress based on playlist and project-based learning activities, student and teacher reflections, portfolio work, and adaptive-standardized tests. Teachers also hold parent/teacher conferences throughout the year.
Is there a foreign language program?
Our co-curricular programs before and after school are offered for an additional fee and include foreign language instruction for all ages and levels in Mandarin and Spanish. In the past, AltSchool has partnered with organizations such as Education Française Bay Area to provide interested students an opportunity to study other languages that do not have the demand for a full AltSchool class.
Do you give grades?
Frequent feedback is key to improving student outcomes over time. AltSchool students regularly receive both qualitative and quantitative feedback.
Every week, students, teachers, and family members reflect on the design and outcomes of each student’s Personalized Learning Plan and adjust learning Playlists accordingly. On a regular basis, students, teachers, and family members meet for an in-person consultation to review and improve the learning plan based on collective observations and evaluations of student work. In addition, each student has a portfolio of work to demonstrate project-based learning outcomes.
For quantitative measurement, we integrate real-time, games-based adaptive learning applications in the classroom. This way, students are motivated to improve within the context of the learning experience.
In addition, AltSchool students are assessed three times per year on the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP). MAP is an adaptive test based on Common Core Standards that matches each student’s skill level. Parents and teachers will be able to benchmark a child’s grade level for each subject, including percentile ranking and range of growth.
What is your policy on homework?
AltSchool does not have a formal homework policy and it varies from child to child. This depends on age, skill level and how successful each child is in managing time to complete work in class.
When elementary students bring home school work, it is usually to complete a project or to dive deeper into topics driven by passion and interest. Because reading assignments and written work become lengthier as the student matures, Middle Schoolers regularly have homework in order to maximize instructional time. However, students can often finish their work during individual Playlist time built into the schedule every day.
Who is the principal?
Our classrooms are designed for participatory leadership rather than top-down control. Each micro-school classroom is run by a Head of School who collaborates with co-teachers, parents and students to shape vision, determine priorities, and solve problems.
Other functions typically assigned to school administrators -- including recruiting, outreach, technology support, purchasing, and finances -- are handled by AltSchool’s support team and academic advisory board.
Why do you have mixed ages?
We believe that, like adults, children benefit educationally and socially from being part of diverse communities with a range of ages and abilities. Grouping children of various ages together gives each child exposure to peers who are similar and different. Children learn from one another as they stretch to attain higher levels of understanding and as they serve as experts to those less far along. Each student has a personalized education plan and we have a low classroom student to teacher ratio, thus we can effectively serve children at multiple grade levels in the same homeroom environment.
How are student needs met in a micro-school campus?
Our micro-schools are composed of flexible classroom spaces that work as multi-disciplinary learning centers. An open floor plan, modular furniture and state of the art learning tools allow us to easily shift room functions--quickly transforming a room from a science laboratory to a reading lounge to a yoga studio. In addition, students make frequent use of neighborhood facilities such as yoga studios, gyms, science institutions, libraries, museums, parks, and other enrichment centers in the city.
What is your student:teacher ratio?
AltSchool is committed to maintaining a low student to teacher ratio to ensure a customized and personal environment for each of our children.
How are you using technology?
Most technology is invisible in the classroom. Student-facing technology complements but never replaces the relationship with the teacher. We use technology to superpower our teachers and improve the quality of time spent with each student. We use technology in three ways:
1. We help teachers do what they do best: teach. We are building digital platforms to streamline the backend operations of the classroom so teachers can spend more time in face-to-face interactions with students.
2. Understanding that parent input and feedback are key to every student’s education, we are building digital tools to support communications and collaboration between teachers, parents, and students.
3. We complement our interactive, project-based approach with digital learning tools carefully curated by our educators as part of a student’s personalized learning plan. We mentor each student’s use of technology.
Technology in the classroom varies by program. With younger children technology is used mainly for chronicling students work and to provide communication between parents and educators. A younger student might use technology to take a picture of an activity to chronicle it, provide feedback on a project, or create a video for a story she has written. For older students, technology is integrated throughout their curriculum as appropriate, and they leverage it to augment learning and accomplish their overall learning objectives. Each student has their own iPad or Chromebook to manage their playlist learning.
Parents and Teachers
How do teachers work with each other?
Teachers work in co-teaching teams, drawing on each other’s strengths to ensure that the classroom runs smoothly and the program is rich and dynamic. They also partner with subject matter experts and external resources to provide a diverse learning experience for all students.
How do teachers work with parents?
Teachers and parents are a team at AltSchool. They work together to form a deep understanding of each child’s Learner Portrait and to continually refine Personalized Learning Plans. Parents are encouraged to provide feedback to teachers on a regular basis to improve their child’s learning trajectory. On a regular basis, parents receive updates regarding student progress on playlist activities. Parents, students, and teachers also meet for an in-person conferences to evaluate and improve the learning experience. AltSchool parents also have the opportunity to suggest experiences for inclusion in the curriculum on an ongoing basis and to contribute their own talents to the classroom.
Beyond working with teachers, what else is expected of families?
At AltSchool, families are a critical part of the education experience and community. Families give their time and resources voluntarily in ways that meet their interests and time available. Structured opportunities to contribute include volunteering as Class Community Builders, Site Improvements Committee Members, Admissions Ambassadors and Technology Committee Members.
Families can also participate in more unstructured ways, including volunteering their time to share their expertise or culture with a class, attending community and/or parent education events, or participating in the online AltSchool Family Network.
What kind of child does AltSchool look for?
There is no single perfect type of student for AltSchool. We look for children with a combination of skills, talents, interests, and learning styles. We also look for children with a combination of curiosity, enthusiasm, and optimism. We consider these elements when putting together our classrooms. We aim to attract students who complement one another and help each other grow. Because we provide personalized learning experiences and we have multiple locations and school environments, we are an ideal educational environment for a wide range of personality types and learner profiles.
What about siblings of those already enrolled?
We welcome siblings and work with each family individually to accommodate sibling enrollment.
How old does my child need to be to enroll in the Transitional Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten programs?
Please see our location pages for age cut-offs.
How many openings do you have?
Rather than ranking students and admitting our top choices to a limited number of spots, we craft ideally balanced classes through a careful understanding of students and families. We have the capacity to open new micro-schools where there is the greatest interest and demand amongst prospective families.
How are grade levels organized at AltSchool?
AltSchool offers Lower Elementary (Transitional Kindergarten/Kindergarten/1st grade), Upper Elementary (2nd - 5th grade), and Middle School (6th - 8th grade) classrooms. Each mixed age group has its own classroom.
How old does my child need to be to enroll in the Transitional Kindergarten program?
We accept children who are at least four years and nine months old on a rolling basis to our T/K program throughout the year.
What are the details around your Visiting Scholars Program?
AltSchool’s Visiting Scholar program allows children to attend 3-4 days a week under the following conditions:
Hear from Students, Parents, Teachers and the AltSchool Team
A Day in the Life of Lower Elementary
AltSchool's TK and First Grade students describe a typical day in the classroom.
A Day in the Life of Upper Elementary
Hear from students (3rd to 5th grade) as they describe a typical day at AltSchool.
A Day in the Life of Middle School
Hear from 6th to 8th grade students about a typical day at AltSchool.
Meet AltSchool Educators
Receiving over 4000 applications for 20 teaching positions across 8 schools, AltSchool is excited to assemble a team of some of the best educators in the country.
Parents Share Their Experiences
Meet fellow parents and hear about their experience selecting and transitioning to AltSchool, as well as what they most appreciate about AltSchool's approach to personalized education.
Parents Describe the Teachers, Curriculum, and Technology in the Classroom
What's a playlist? What does personalized education mean? Hear from fellow parents as they describe their experiences at AltSchool with the teachers, technology in the classroom, and what customized curricula means for their children.
Middle School Parents: Children are Thriving at AltSchool
Parents of Middle School students talk about the differences and benefits of AltSchool's middle school program.
Patricia discusses how her 9-year-old son has grown his confidence and critical thinking skills in AltSchool's smaller-sized classrooms.
Alice, AltSchool's Community Manager and mother of two students, discusses how her 9-year-old son has flourished in the classroom by keeping active and engaged through interdisciplinary activities in the AltSchool curriculum.
Hear Margaret talk about her 6 year old daughter's progress in reading and how she has fallen in love with learning.
Carolyn Wilson, Director of Education, explains how technology is used in AltSchool classrooms.
What is AltSchool
Founder Max Ventilla discusses why he decided to reimagine education with AltSchool.
AltSchool's founder, Max Ventilla, discusses the AltSchool approach to personalized, interdisciplinary project-based learning.
Outside The Classroom
Carolyn Wilson, Director of Education, discusses AltSchool's extension of the classroom through field trips, excursions into the community, and local experts.
AltSchool Hires Top Execs from Google, Uber, Rocket Fuel and Zynga to Help Reinvent Education from the Ground UpMarch 4, 2015
AltSchool Continues to Innovate Progressive Education Model: Educational Startup Officially Converts to Public Benefit Corporation and Certified B CorporationNovember 17, 2014
AltSchool Raises $33 Million in Series A Funding to Transform K-8 Education Through a Network of Innovative Micro-SchoolsMarch 18, 2014
Our Schools All Have a Tragic Flaw; Silicon Valley Thinks It Has the Answer - A former Google executive has cooked up Silicon Valley's most fully imagined alternative to a standard grade-school education. Now his idea is spreading across the country, one micro-school at a time.May 5, 2015
WATCH: Can Silicon Valley personalize education? Max Ventilla, Founder & CEO of AltSchool, talks about a new effort in Silicon Valley to improve public schools around the country.May 5, 2015
Facebook founder and others invest $100 million in a private school model they hope can take root in the public system: A small private school network in California has developed new education technology that could reshape the nation’s classroomsMay 5, 2015
MARK ZUCKERBERG JOINS ALTSCHOOL'S BACKERS THE B-CORP ANNOUNCED TODAY THAT IT HAS RAISED AN ADDITIONAL $100 MILLION FROM SILICON VALLEY INSIDERS, INCLUDING THE FACEBOOK FOUNDER.May 4, 2015
Altschool Raises $100M From Founders Fund, Zuckerberg To Scale A Massive Network of Schools Around Personalized LearningMay 4, 2015
Silicon Valley Reimagines School- AltSchool raised $100 million to build and expand a network of high-tech private schools.May 4, 2015
ALTSCHOOL IS HEADING TO A NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR YOU. CAN IT FIX EDUCATION? The San Francisco-based Education Startup plans to open five new schools this fall, including one in Brooklyn.March 5, 2015
Scholarship Fund at AltSchool
At AltSchool, we believe that all children deserve an excellent, personalized education that helps them reach their full potential. We also believe that children benefit from diversity, and that diverse classrooms help prepare young learners for the future.
Our students represent a diverse cross-section of communities, and many families rely on need-based tuition assistance to provide this opportunity to their children.
We invite community members, philanthropists, and organizations to support us in making AltSchool accessible to more children from underserved communities. If you'd like to contribute to our need-based Scholarship Fund, you can do so through our partner, Scholarship America, here.
When you contribute to AltSchool’s Scholarship Fund, you not only create more opportunities for children to access an exceptional education, but you also invest in continuous innovation of personalized learning tools and best practices with far-reaching implications for how children learn in the 21st century.
To learn more about AltSchool's philanthropic endeavors, please email Jane Yu.
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