Problem: The first high school in the group was founded in 2003 in San Francisco, USA, by the educator Dianne Tavaner. The school is public, yet privately managed. Today, the group has seven schools in California and also teaches pupils of junior high school age. Two new units will open in Washington State in 2015. It has adopted the blended learning method, combining online and offline activities, since 2012, when it was observed that teacher-centered classes left gaps in student learning.
Solutions: The project was first implemented in math classes, and today is used in the teaching of all subjects. The group encourages autonomy and does not divide students by age or school year. To accommodate such integration, the schools have many open spaces, where students can sit in groups or alone.
From Monday to Thursday, they spend part of the day studying individually using their laptops and an online platform developed at the school, which enables their performance be tracked, and provides information about what should be studied to achieve personalized goals. Teachers have access to data and know the needs of each student in real time. At other times of the day, students create projects that can be done individually, in pairs, in groups or even in partnership with a teacher. Finally, there is a time for reading, also on the computer, which includes activities and exercises.
Friday is a day of reflection, when students are divided into groups to discuss community issues and values such as respect, responsibility, courage and compassion. Another activity is conversation with an individual mentor who can discuss school performance and personal issues. During the year, there are still free periods for "expeditions" in which students spend two weeks dedicated to something that interests them, such as a hobby or a career, within or outside the school.
Outcomes: A total of 96% of students from the school go on to graduate from four year higher education courses. School students perform better in national testing than other California students.