Silicon Valleys New-Age AltSchool Unleashes Its Secrets

AltSchool isn’t just for AltSchool anymore.

Since its founding in 2014, with backing from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Andreessen Horowitz, and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, the San Francisco startup has opened eight of its new-age AltSchools in the Bay Area and New York City. It sees theseas mini educational labs where it’s working to create a new kind of personalized educational for the 21st century, and now, the company is sharing its philosophies with the outside world. This morning, it announced that three outside schools will use its platform: Berthold Academy in Reston, Virginia; The Greene School in West Palm Beach, Florida; and Temple Beth Sholom Day School in Miami Beach, Florida.

The eventual goal, says chief operating officer Cody Johnson, is to apply the company’s formula to a network of private, public, and charter schools across the US. Today, AltSchool is taking a step toward achieving that aim.

The three independent AltSchools use a wide range of educational approaches, from Montessori to Reggio Emilia, but Johnson believes they can all dovetail with the AltSchool ethos. Theyre schools that look like us. Theyre private and independent,” he says. “But they show we can take this platform and put it into external environments, and it will work.

The company is also providing more detail on the software it provide to these schools. There are two main tools. One, called Portrait, aims to provide a record of each students progress in both traditional academic and non-academic contexts, like how often your kid has practiced some skill,and it integratesteacher narratives, educator notes, test scores, and samples of your kids homework. The other, Playlist, allows educators to sequence and remix curriculum units so that each student can, say, viewassignments, have a chat with their teacher, and submit homework. Grade books, lesson plans, folders for completed work, assessments, Johnson says. Imagine a digital representation of those things, so that you know whats happening across each of those, and against those, who the student is and what they should be doing next.

In the next three to five years, he says, AltSchool hopes to expand to public and charter schools. And it’s already taking applications for other private schools.

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