School of One boosts individual learning

Rose said this form of learning lets students “choose their modality,” and not every student is at the same achievement level upon entering the classroom.

“We’re operating on a middle school level,” said Rose. “We have some students [who] have gaps in third and fourth grade skills and some students [who] are ready for ninth grade.”

To accommodate this spread of skills, the School of One administers daily assessments to determine what kind of middle school math lesson a student needs next.

“We have data about each student. We know precisely what skills they’ve mastered, what they haven’t mastered, and what they should be ready to learn,” said Rose.

These data then are matched by computer to a lesson bank with more than 5,000 middle school math lesson plans from 50 different content providers.

“Our algorithm looks at those two data sets … and creates a unique schedule for each student and each teacher every day that effectively matches the student with the lesson that is most likely to be successful for them,” Rose said.

The result is a television display at the front of the room that resembles an airport departures and arrivals schedule. Each student’s name is displayed, along with his or her station schedules for the day.

“We have some students [who] love working with technology and some [who] don’t; some [who] love working in groups and some [who] don’t,” said Rose.

Teachers do have the ability to override a student’s individual learning schedule based on their professional judgment, but they are able to start off with a strong set of recommendations. This computer process allows for each student to be matched with the way he or she learns best.

So far, the algorithm is working. A study conducted by the New York City Department of Education concluded that School of One participants achieved more than nine times the math skill growth than their peers in a third of the time.

The School of One currently operates only in New York City, but Rose hopes this year will generate the information needed to continue expanding the program.

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