Although an innovative school model in New York City called the School of One has just started its first full year of implementation, it already has garnered national attention for its middle school math program, which is being hailed as a pioneer for a new method of education based on each student’s individual learning experience.
In traditional classrooms, teachers lead students through the curriculum at the same pace, and every student is expected to learn the same material at the same time. The School of One focuses on learning progression, but students might begin the same lesson at different points. State test results and other assessments identify which skills a student needs to develop, and those skills make up a student’s “playlist,” or individual learning plan.
School of One students receive a daily schedule based on their own academic strengths or needs. The schedules are tailored to each student’s ability and to the way that student learns best.
School of One CEO Joel Rose, a former teacher, said the inflexibility of traditional course curriculum concerned him and prompted him to imagine what learning might be like if it were tailored more to students in an individual learning experience.
“In a traditional classroom, we know that when a teacher may be teaching, not every student is ready to learn,” said Rose.
Math instruction is of a particular concern at a time when math skills are essential for success in college and the workforce. Instead of a one-room lecture-style math classroom, students in the School of One’s middle school math program enter an open space with several different learning stations that let students learn with a teacher, with software, via online tutors, through group collaboration, or by working independently.