The rapid global shift to hybrid and remote learning–with lots of versions and variability–provoked renewed interest in new school models. And, compared to 20 years ago, the invention opportunity is enhanced by the science of learning, broad agreement on the importance of success skills, and better tools.

The opportunity to design schools to promote whole child development is expressed in a framework from Turnaround for Children. The five design principles include “positive relationships, environments filled with safety and belonging, integrated supports, the intentional development of critical skills, mindsets and habits that all successful learners have, and rich meaningful instructional experiences so that students discover what they are capable of.”

With Altitude Learning and for the Texas Learning Exchange, we are building on Turnaround’s complication of learning science and cataloging innovative school models. We spotted and tagged features of innovative schools in eight dimensions. New school models innovate in one or more of these dimensions. They may not have a long track record of success but their early practices and results are promising.

  1.  Outcomes: how student learning goals are expressed. Outcomes may be innovative in the way they are described, the group they target, or the level strived for.
  2. Learning model: how learning experiences are authored, organized and sequenced.
  3. Social and emotional learning: whole child development, as Turnaround notes, combines positive relationships, safe learning environments, integrated supports, and skill building.
  4. Competency: how learning is measured, communicated, how learners progress through the system, and how they share their progress and capabilities.
  5. Diversity, equity, and inclusion: how diverse learners are welcomed and supported in their learning journey.
  6. Organization of time and staffing: innovative ways of organizing learning experiences, schedules, supports, and staff.
  7. Tools: learning platforms and applications that support innovative practices.
  8. Theory of Change: unique entry points or partnerships, productive scaling strategies, and networks.

Read the full article about innovation for new schools by Tom Vander Ark at Getting Smart.