AltSchool
Lab Schools
Student-driven learning
Location
New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
Profile
TK-8th grade
Independent
Student Impact
230 students

If you visit one of our four lab schools in San Francisco or New York, you won’t see students spending much time alone in front of a screen. Instead, you’ll see them making, designing, and collaborating with peers in schools across the country. You’ll see them demonstrating their learning, from expositions to student-led conferences. And you’ll see them exploring beyond their school walls, working with experts on projects that have lasting impact on the broader community.

Our learners work on being curious, empathetic, self-aware, growth-oriented, and learning how to learn. Steeped in learner-centered teaching practices, our technology supports all of this. In our lab schools, students set their own goals, delve deep into their interests, and take increasing ownership over their learning.

At AltSchool, our educators put students at the center of their own learning by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and awareness to advocate for themselves. When a child takes purposeful initiative in his or her learning experiences, they become more engaged in and dedicated to learning. In our schools, we practice whole-child development, competency-based assessment, appropriate interventions, and project-based learning.

Dramatic improvements in YoY standardized testing results

Standardized testing is just one of many student growth measures we leverage in our schools. AltSchool students have consistently scored highly on a percentile basis, but what’s more remarkable is that our learners have made significant gains each year in terms of year-over-year growth.

During our most recent testing period, from fall to spring ‘17-’18, our students’ mean MAP scores across math, reading, and language arts grew by an average of 134%, relative to normalized national growth benchmarks of 100%. That's the highest in AltSchool history, continuing an upward trend we've seen since our inception.

In 2017-18, MAP scores grew by an average of 134% 

"The idea of building technology that supports learners, that supports educators, and that simplifies things so educators can spend more time teaching is exactly what I want to be doing."

- David Dobson Smith, Head of School, AltSchool Fort Mason

Relevant whole-child learning experiences

Over the last school year, our educators captured over 39,000 assessments across academic and social-emotional learning via the platform. Character strengths such as grit, curiosity, and purpose were the second-most assessed subject area overall, following English Language Arts (ELA). We continue to validate this focus on social-emotional learning via external assessment tools like our student Panorama survey, where our learners scored in the 99th percentile on growth mindset when compared to the national average.

Our learners scored in the 99th percentile on growth mindset compared to the national average

Student goal-setting plays a major role in shifting the locus of control from the educator to the student and giving students a voice. In our schools, we utilize student goal-setting to nurture a high level of agency by empowering learners to determine their own path to achieving both academic and non-academic goals. Last year, we piloted interdisciplinary capstone projects across each grade band in our schools. Over the course of these long-term, student-driven projects, students worked with adult advisors to co-create learning goals aligned to their projects, and then assessed themselves against these rubrics along the way. Using the Goals feature in the platform, students input their own evidence and assessments as they progressed in their learning.

Learn more about how our technology works.

“AltSchool has really changed me. What I’ve learned here is that even if I get it wrong or fail, then I need to figure out why I failed, and then set myself up again for success and keep trying until I get it. That’s the growth mindset that’s been instilled in me. I’m using it in my life in all sorts of different situations. Whether that’s in math or doing a craft or a project, I’ll keep trying to figure out what went wrong so I can do it right the next time.”

- AltSchool 8th grader

Students driving their own learning experiences

AltSchool graduates have now been admitted to 45 different high schools and are thriving academically and socially in a wide range of environments. Contributing significantly to this success: Each of our students is on a personal journey to understanding themselves as learners, and specifically what motivates them and how they learn best.

Last year, our students began facilitating student-led conferences. They seized the opportunity to showcase their growth; highlight the individual challenges they faced; and drive progress reporting for their families. After studying transferable skills, students created a taxonomy that they found most relevant to solving complex problems. 

100% of families reported favorably on student-led conferences

Part of this process required students to self-identify strengths and weaknesses, calling for deep introspection. For example, middle school students at AltSchool Fort Mason ranked their progress in four "life" domains that included one academic and three non-academic areas. By using the platform to review past work in Playlist and Stream, students were able to build their portfolios, document evidence of growth, and even recreate moments that hadn’t previously been documented. Finally, they shared all of this with their families in conferences where they presented their learning. Throughout this process, students were highly engaged and made powerful connections between their success and challenges in non-academic and academic areas.

It’s kind of up to us to manage our time, especially given Playlist. We’re expected to be able to manage our own time and prioritize what we need to prioritize. I feel like being taught that kind of independence is good.

- AltSchool 8th grader

Highly satisfied families engaged in their children’s learning

Learning is inherently social. Building healthy, meaningful, and sustained relationships with peers and adults helps students to feel a deep sense of belonging. Across our schools, we’re committed to cultivating a community where students can build connections to expertise and opportunity. We’re also dedicated to transparency so that families can engage in their child’s learning. Our educators intentionally design learning experiences with such exposure in mind. A few examples include visiting experts from a variety of fields, access to mentors and role models, and programs that expose children to diverse career paths.

80% of Altschool families access Stream weekly to engage in their child's learning


In addition, through regular assessments and progress reports, AltSchool families get personalized updates. Educators leverage tools like Stream and Capture to keep families abreast of learning activities and help them to deeply understand their child’s unique challenges and growth areas. Armed with this visibility into their children’s learning and progress, families understand how and when to support learning throughout the school year.

More than 80% of our families access Stream weekly. In our most recent survey, many guardians reported appreciating the ability to track student growth in real time. This has contributed to our high parent satisfaction rate, with 90% of families reporting that they understand their child’s progress and feel strongly connected to their child’s learning community.

“Within the first six months at AltSchool, our kids just blossomed. Their self-direction is amazing, which makes parenting so much easier. They have this zest and this passion that all of my friends notice. They’re confident—they’re going to say something if they have an opinion. And that is what I think will carry these kids, this generation, through the next formative years of their life and into whatever the future is.”

- Sandhya, parent of AltSchool elementary and middle school students

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