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Our Approach

How can we best prepare children for the 21st century?

“My son is more confident, happy, and excited about school than I have ever seen him before.”

— Rebecca, Middle School Parent

An AltSchool Education

Together, these five elements create the educational experience for each AltSchool student.

“This is a school about loving who you are and what the experience of learning is for you.”

—Renee, Lower School Parent

Parents describe the classroom

Personalized learning

Each student at AltSchool has a personalized learning plan, based on their current knowledge across all academic areas, individual goals, and interests. Through our technology, educators curate relevant individual and group activities that support each student’s goals and needs. Educators assess student progress on an ongoing basis to keep students challenged and help them grow.

“At AltSchool, the curriculum bends to the child rather than the child bending to the curriculum.”

— Gorsie, Middle School Parent

Social-emotional learning at AltSchool

Fostering the whole child

Building social-emotional strength is embedded in our core curriculum. As students grapple with algebra problem sets, they develop a growth mindset. When they build scientific models or a working prototype they learn that failure is a step towards success. Because social-emotional skills are just as important as academics, our educators track them with the same rigor. We also group students of different ages in the same classes so they can experience being leaders, learners, and teammates together.

“My son has a part to play in what he’s learning. Because he has an opportunity to express what he’d like to do each day and what he’d like to do differently the next, he thinks critically and he feels heard.”

— Patricia, Lower School Parent

The academics at AltSchool

Rigorous academics

In addition to building skills for how to learn, AltSchool students build competency across core academic domains. Educators assess student work and progress against each student’s individual learning objectives and nationally recognized standards, including Common Core English and Math, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and Social Emotional Learning Competencies (CASEL). To build a strong academic foundation, students advance when they have demonstrated competency in an area, not because the class has advanced.

“My son came to AltSchool because he wanted to work hard. Teachers know how to challenge him the right amount to make him stretch a little further.”

— Gorsie, Middle School Parent

Project-based learning in Middle School

Project-based learning

Each class at AltSchool uses projects to explore interdisciplinary topics. Students have opportunities to investigate topics through field trips, individual and group research, or visits with partners from AltSchool’s Expert Network. As a culmination of a particular arc, students plan, produce, and present a project of their own. For example, when exploring the topic of water as a class, one student may film a short documentary on the drought in California, whereas another may create a model of a desalination plant. Student presentations demonstrate mastery and include their reflections on the process and ideas for future iteration.

“It has been amazing to see my son throw himself into his project and take ownership of his work!”

— Alice, Lower School Parent

Going into the real world...for real

Learning as a community

Learning at AltSchool extends beyond the classroom walls and into the local community. Each class goes on frequent field trips and invites people from AltSchool’s Expert Network into the classroom. For one class, a field trip could mean visiting a local art gallery and showing their own work in response to an artist that had inspired them. In a different class, community involvement means volunteering at a local organization that provides job opportunities for the homeless. And in another class, students invite a local expert to lead a session on robotics and programming.

“We have such a tight-knit community at AltSchool. My son’s classmates are his best friends, and he loves going to school every day.”

— Maria, Lower School Parent

AltSchool’s Curriculum

We aim to foster T-shaped learners: students who have a wide breadth of knowledge across all subjects and depth in the subjects that they are passionate about. In addition to cultivating strong social-emotional skills, AltSchool students build competency across core academic areas: math, science, English language arts, and social studies. Through our before- and after-school co-curricular offerings, students delve even deeper into subjects of interest, including drama, arts, coding, and foreign languages.

Our curriculum builds competency through authentic learning experiences. Students answer the questions: “Why am I learning this skill?”, “How is this skill applied outside of school?”, and “Why does this skill matter?” Through inquiry, projects, core skills work, and reflection, students connect what they are learning to its real-world application.

Daily Schedule

Our flexible schedules provide time for core skills and project work, as well as individual and group work. Educators are encouraged to personalize the schedule for their classes.

  • 8:00 am - 9:00 am: Rolling drop off and co-curriculars

    With a flexible drop off schedule, parents can drop off students anytime between 8 am and 9 am. During that block, students focus on individual work. Students enrolled in morning co-curriculars meet during this hour.

  • 9:00 am - 9:15 am: Morning meeting

    A typical day includes a morning meeting, where students connect, share, and review the day’s schedule.

  • 9:15 am - 11:30 am: Core skills learning blocks

    Many classes schedule one or two learning blocks during this time to work on core skills. A learning block may include individual, small group, or classwide instruction on a particular subject like math, language arts, or science.

  • 11:30 am - 1:30 pm: Lunch and PE

    Students have PE and/or recess period every day. Schools utilize local parks and playgrounds to ensure students play and experience the outdoors.

  • 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm: Project-based learning

    Many classes schedule one or two learning blocks during this time to focus on class-wide or individual projects.

  • 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm: Co-Curriculars

    We offer co-curricular programming between 3 pm and 6 pm. Sessions may include foreign language, music, athletics, coding, and more.

Exceptional Educators

AltSchool educators are passionate and creative, inspiring a love of learning in students every day. With over 3,000 applications for 40 teaching spots last year, we are fortunate to hire some of the best educators from across the globe.
Download Our Educator Infographic

How we hire our educators

Through a rigorous hiring process, we evaluate educators in six main categories that align with our approach. The AltSchool educator:

  • Listens to and appreciates each student as an individual
  • Fosters social-emotional skills through every activity and assignment
  • Uses academic standards to provide a rigorous, well-rounded education
  • Creates hands-on learning experiences through projects and the community
  • Partners with parents to best support their children
  • Uses technology to enhance in-person learning, not replace it

21st Century Educators

Technology Transforms the School Experience

Through AltSchool’s tools, students manage their own projects and assignments, teachers personalize and assess student activities, and parents connect with their child’s learning experiences.

Student Tool: Playlist

A Playlist is a customized to do list for students to manage their work. Teachers curate a unique Playlist for each student. Within the Playlist, students can view their assignments, communicate with their teacher, and submit their work. Teachers can then provide feedback and assess student work. The majority of student work is completed off screen; students mainly use the Playlist to manage and document their work.

Teacher Tool: Progression

Progression provides a real-time portrait of each child’s progress in math, language arts, and social emotional development. Progression pulls in assessments from individual student work, projects, and 3rd party standards, forming a comprehensive view of a student’s progress in each area. An educator can quickly see where a student has demonstrated mastery and where they need to improve specific skills.

Parent App: Stream

Stream gives parents transparency into their child’s classroom experience. Parents see regular updates about their child’s growth and their individual work. Parents also receive class-wide, school-wide, and network-wide news and announcements from AltSchool.

Parent App: Planner

Planner allows parents to quickly and easily manage logistics and scheduling, whether that’s communicating with their child’s teacher or reporting an absence. It also provides important school resources, like weekly calendars and parent/student directories.