Our three commitments to families (love of school, 2x learning, and life skills) headline every year. However, one specific goal last year was to increase academic rigor while maintaining a love of school. Mission accomplished: 98% of our students reported “loving school” even as they completed twice the academic work they did the previous year. Furthermore, year-to-year MAP testing provided clear evidence that our adaptive app-driven model leads to increased academic growth and achievement.
By May 2019, Alpha swelled past 80 students and did so with a staff comprised of 75% newcomers. Here are some highlights covering what we have learned and where we are going:
- Focused work for 25 minutes per subject per day produces strong MAP growth and achievement scores.
- Increasing rigor means spending just minutes more working on a subject. (read: Spend 10 more minutes a day on science and you will see great results)
- MAP testing is an invaluable tool for understanding student progress and developing personalized learning pathways.
- Our app-based learning model allows guides to optimize for building great workshops and teaching life skills.
- Regularly varying out motivational models keeps kids engaged in their academic work.
- A consistent daily schedule has a strong positive impact on students.
- Kids love leaderboards for apps and points.
- Kids love having a choice in workshops and getting to rank their top picks.
- Healthy schools have student retention of 90%. Alpha’s student retention: 96%. Current families are happy with Alpha.
- Alpha’s reputation in Austin is growing. We will be over 100 students for the 2019–2020 school year.
To share the full list of learnings, I’d have to write a novel. Learning leads to new questions. Some of them are large: How do we best teach kids to consistently strive for excellence? Some of them are smaller: How do we get kids to come to school with a water bottle? (Yes — that is a hint!)
We’re hard at work using what we learned in the past year to continue to deliver on our goal of building the best, most innovative educational program.