News + Ideas

School of One

The Problem:

Despite dramatic technological innovations over the past century, the typical classroom is largely unchanged. Students’ individual learning styles factor very little into the content and pace of curriculum.

The Innovation:

Joel Rose, a former fifth-grade teacher, developed an approach to learning that combines the latest online technology with face-to-face instruction to create an individualized, student-focused learning experience. School of One teachers receive extensive data tracking students’ progress, and use that data each day to decide on a “playlist” of learning for each student. To make that personalization possible, School of One operates in large spaces that enable different modalities of learning to happen simultaneously — some students work with teachers, some with tutors, some work independently with books and computers, and some work in small groups.


Research of School of One’s after-school and in-school pilots by the New York City Department of Education’s Research and Policy Study Group (RPSG) estimated that School of One students learned at a rate 50-60% higher than in traditional classrooms. The effects were positive for all groups, but most pronounced for the lowest-performing students.

How NewSchools helped:

NewSchools Venture Fund has supported School of One not just with funding, but with intensive management guidance. “NewSchools gets that so much of this is about supporting the entrepreneur,” Rose says. “Trying to get this work done, you’re constantly faced with headwind blowing in your face from lots of different angles. NewSchools understands that at a very deep level and provides the right balance of support and direction to help us move the strategy and work forward.”