Most schools in the United States look essentially the same today as they did 100 years ago and are preparing students for a society and economy which no longer exist. There is an urgent need for new schools that reimagine the student experience, prioritizing elements like student ownership, personalization, and an expanded definition of student success.
But creating new school models that reimagine the student experience comes with a great deal of risk. When an idea has not been tried and proven, we’re uncertain about how it will impact student achievement. At 4.0 Schools and NewSchools Venture Fund, we’ve been experimenting with ways to reduce this risk and ensure that operators of new, innovative schools have the strongest possible start.
We believe that the best way to reduce the risk of a new operator and an unproven model is to give founders an opportunity to put their ideas into action by running a short- term, small scale test of their school model. The test with which we’ve been experimenting most recently is called the NewSchools Simulator. Through the simulator, founders bring their innovative idea to life by running a one-month, full-day, one classroom version of their school over the summer.
This report is intended to share our ideas and learnings about the potential of piloting and inspire conversations about how to catalyze innovation, reduce risk, and support new school founders in the early stages of school development. If you’re interested in learning more about this approach to school launch, starting a pilot program of your own, or sponsoring an individual through this process, we’d love to hear from you. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.