Microschools, while not a new concept, are currently garnering increasing attention as an educational innovation. Microschools are small learning environments with typically less than 150 students that offer personalized and student-centered learning experiences. Teachers hungry for more autonomy, families seeking personalized learning, and the constraints of education budgets are all fueling the demand for microschools. Last Fall, Getting Smart collaborated with the Walton Family Foundation on the Big Push for Small Schools grant program to foster a network of microschool leaders by offering grants to propel the development of these innovative learning spaces, focusing on operators looking to scale their high-quality models. Yet, the question remains: what does it mean to scale a microschool? And, how broad is the microschool landscape?

The microschool landscape has grown tremendously in both public and private sectors. Our early research classified microschools into four unique categories: operators, intermediaries, schools within schools or programs, and incubators. Through continued efforts within our microschool initiatives, we’ve identified a more complex ecosystem that exists with both the private and public sectors, as well as unique public-private partnerships. Additionally, homeschools and learning pods (multi-family) fall into the microschool landscape. While we have articulated a number of elements across the landscape, we also acknowledge the overlap in some of these models. By naming the elements within the landscape, all educators and parents can see opportunities for more options across all sectors to better serve their students and children.

When we hear the term scaling as it relates to growth, we often loosely define it as simply expanding. Harvard’s business school defines scaling as “a business growing revenue more quickly than its costs” and growth as “the process of increasing revenues and resources at an even rate.” But how does that translate to microschools?

Growth in microschools refers to the process of increasing enrollment, resources, and educational offerings – usually at a single site. This might include adding more teachers, expanding facilities, or introducing new programs to meet the needs of a growing student population.

Scaling in microschools involves expanding the reach and impact of the educational model while maintaining or improving the quality of education provided. This expansion might include impacting more students by increasing the number of campuses or developing partnerships with other educational institutions.

As the demand for innovation and personalized learning options grows, so does the need for microschools. This demand can be met by both growth and scaling approaches.

Read the full article about microschools by Nate McClennen and Jordan Luster at Getting Smart.