$133M donated to pilot high-tech, free-range education model

$133M donated to pilot high-tech, free-range education model

Thursday, May 7, 2015

What if a parent told you their 7-year-old goes to a school where the students set their own learning curriculum and Mark Zuckerberg is a $100-million donor? This may read like a page from a fairytale, but it is the real story for parents who send their kindergarten through eighth-graders to AltSchool. This San Francisco start-up school, founded in 2013 by former Google head of personalization Max Ventilla, is an experiment with an educational philosophy known as student-centered learning.

According to an article published on May 5, by WIRED, “Students get their own iPad or Chromebook, depending on their age, and their own weekly “playlists,” queues of individual and group activities tailored to the specific strengths and weaknesses of each kid. Meanwhile, AltSchool’s technology tracks each student’s progress—and setbacks—every step of the way.”

AltSchool’s model blends two growing education trends: high-tech education start-ups and personalized learning environments. This model is attracting parents willing to pay $20,000+ a year and philanthropists who have invested $133-million into AltSchool. Supporting their decision to invest are results from a Gates Foundation study showing low-income students receiving personalized education made greater strides in their standardized test scores compared to students that lacked a personalized learning program.

To learn about the trends in our region’s education system and student performance, visit the education section of Gulf Coast Community Indicators.