here for PDF format
here for participants responses to this interview.
Joel Rose, Founder, School
of One in New York City
Civic Caucus, 8301
Creekside Circle #920, Bloomington, MN 55437
of the discussion
Verne Johnson (chair), Paul Gilje, Dan Loritz, Tim McDonald, Jim Olson
Welcome and introductions
Rose is the founder and former chief executive officer of the
the New York City Department of Education. Named one of Time's top 50
inventions of 2009, the
of One blends live, online, and collaborative instruction to provide
students with learning that is personalized to their academic needs,
interests, and ways of learning. Mr. Rose joined the Department of
Education in 2006 and has since served as chief executive for human
capital and as chief of staff to Deputy Chancellor Christopher Cerf. Mr.
Rose has been involved in education for more than 15 years, first as a
Teach For America corps member in
and later as a senior executive at Edison Schools. He earned a bachelor's
degree in political science from
a law degree from the University of Miami School of Law, and graduated
from the Broad Urban Superintendents Academy.
Additional details regarding the
of One may be found on its website: Schoolofone.org.
opened the discussion by describing a recent move he has made from New
York City public schools to a new non-profit he started to help bring the
concepts embedded within School of One to other locations. The name of the
new organization will be unveiled at the official launch later this fall.
The mission of School of One is to personalize learning.
said that the common model of school today with a teacher in a room with
28 students has its roots back in a trip Horace Mann made to Prussia in
the 1800's, where he saw these kinds of "batch-process" institutions.
public schools, once the envy of every nation, cruised along for many
years with a reputation as the world's best. Conditions have changed and
our schools are no longer as highly esteemed. What the system was doing
was working well for the elite, Rose said, but giving limited exposure to
reading and math for those going into factory jobs. The system no longer
suits the needs of the present day as we ask more of our public education
to create a system where when students graduate ready for the world as it
is today and for college," Rose said, and we're just not going to get
there with the same "factory" model that Horace Mann saw when he went to
Personalization comes through a program with multiple modalities.
School of One model is based on the belief that inside a classroom there
is a tremendous amount of variability, Rose said. If we're really serious
about meeting students' varying needs, he emphasized, it is advantageous
to blend live, teacher-led instruction with collaborative learning among
students, independent learning with books or software, and learning with
online teachers, all in one location. They call these different styles of
learning "modalities". Rose advocates, "by combining modalities into one
environment you can personalize learning."
traditional model, Rose pointed out, there may be five math teachers
teaching five things, or one thing if they're on the same page - but if
you integrate multiple modalities of instruction into one environment then
it allows each teacher to accommodate different learning styles and
technology can be used to personalize each student's experience.
present Rose's multiple modalities approach is used only to teach
mathematics. When asked if the model is applicable to other subjects, Rose
answered that finds it difficult to believe that teacher-led instruction
to 28 students is the best way to approach any subject. When they expand
into other areas-which he said won't be for some years-running multiple
modalities will likely be central to the model.
Staging: Start with a math program after school.
school startup team began implementing the concept of multiple modalities,
Rose said, they began with one subject (math) in one grade (7th)
in one school, after regular school hours. Once they had successfully
developed a process with this limited approach, they expanded to a
continued, "If you're a student you may be used to having history in room
302, English in room 205, then you go to math in room 106. But now with
our program, instead of going to math class in room 106 you go to the math
lab...we knocked down walls from rooms 101-106."
person enters the
see workstations with names of
landmarks. At some stations students are learning from teachers, at some
they learn online from computer software, and at some they learn in groups
from online instructors.
students enter they look at a screen in the room and see where they are
supposed to be. They may start in 'Staten
with Mr. Smith, then move on to 'Bronx Zoo' with online programs, and then
take an assessment to see how much they've learned. The school takes that
data and configures the student's agenda for the next day from that.
The role of teachers evolves.
starting the program they drew from existing teachers in the school, Rose
said. Their most recent surveys show that students are very happy with the
program, and anecdotally teachers appear to be as well.
teachers become acclimated to the unusual environment, School of One has
provided two weeks of professional development before they start in this
kind of classroom and has made sure to have someone on site to help assess
the data and provide coaching. It usually takes about 6 weeks, Rose said,
for a teacher to become comfortable. "It's a fairly intuitive approach.
Teachers tell us this is actually a more natural way of getting students
school, about 20 percent of teachers say this is the greatest thing ever
and they would never go back to a traditional approach. Then there are
10-20 percent that say they don't like this way of teaching. Everyone else
will gravitate toward wherever the leadership is."
teachers have also said that there is a lot more time to spend on
instruction because the assessment is taken off their backs and put on to
the technology platform. And they have reported having more energy at the
end of the day because they have technology driving the organizational
structure, telling the students what their assignments are, so the teacher
doesn't need to be the authoritarian figure.
Student behavior improves when content is matched to their level.
response to a question, Rose said they have found the program works well
for students that are not well motivated by math as it is traditionally
taught. One of the reasons why students act out, he argued, is that
they're getting content that's perhaps 2-3 years beyond their competency
level so they feel stupid, and that often leads to misbehavior.
here they're met wherever they are academically so it's easier to engage
them. In traditional schools often we've got kids at a 5th
grade level getting a 7th grade textbook, and they dig a hole
deeper and deeper each day in frustration. Instead we say that we'll meet
you at your 5th grade level and give you what you need to move
you to the next level."
Old classroom design is an impediment to bringing technology into schools.
to integrate technology have basically been amounted to "cascading"
computers into the existing model of school instead of integrating them,
Rose said. He recalled the first time computers were brought to his room
as a young teacher: "They brought three in, put them in the back of room.
It was just one more thing I had to manage and it only made my life more
Living within the budget.
participant asked how they afford to run this personalized,
technology-heavy program. "We have to do this in the confines of the
existing budget. We are allocated $1500 per student to teach math; we're
The greatest savings comes in time and effectiveness.
savings in this model, Rose said, come not in fewer dollars spent but in
much more learning progress in a given amount of time. Right now, he
figured, there are millions of kids sitting in classrooms not ready to
learn what is being taught, or learning something they already know, or
are being taught in a way that causes them to "zone out". In the past 10
minutes we might have lost a total of 10 minutes times millions of
students. Technology can help us make more efficient use of the limited
time we have with students.
States need to place bets on school entrepreneurs.
very hard for districts to do any research and development, Rose said,
because they're too busy running operations. There are exceptions, but
states can help spark R&D efforts by being the engines of innovation.
States can create innovation zones; they can do more to cultivate model
really need are people willing to engage in wagering on new ventures.
Whether it be foundations or governments, we need them to start betting on
that if he were advising the governor he would counsel setting up two
funds: one to fund the designers and providers and another to fund
incentives for school districts to be early adopters.
barrier to this in the past has been less the result of structure and more
due to lack of imagination, Rose contended. If new and effective ways of
improving learning can be developed then early adopters will come along.
both hard numbers and anecdotal evidence, suggest that Rose's wager on the
School of One is paying off. The school's first report showed that the
students who came to School of One had advanced an extra one-half to
two-thirds of a year beyond the district average.
school has also made a strong economic argument for its focus. The
compelling reason to adopt this new approach is not just that every
student needs and deserves individual attention, Rose said, but also that
resources should be allocated where they can have the greatest return.
It's very difficult for one person to do all the things that technology
can. Technology can pinpoint what concepts a student has or hasn't picked
up, Rose said, and do it for large numbers of students in a fraction of
the time required by a teacher.
shared an anecdote of seeing a girl with headphones on working online at
the school. She had been disturbing students in other classes but was more
quiet and focused in the
interrupted her to ask how she liked the program. "It's not too hard, it's
not too easy, don't change anything," she said, and put her headphones on
again. That's the way the model is supposed to work, Rose said-meeting
students exactly where they are.
Next steps for replication
has put out a request for proposals asking organizations to help run
School of One and move it in to up to four other schools. Rose said his
organization will apply for that opportunity.
like to see a world one day where states, instead of adopting textbooks,
approve model providers"-i.e., the organizations that knit together the
products and services for new schools and programs. "With those options as
resources schools could then be allowed to choose which providers they
want to work with."
Minnesota is seen as the father of the chartering movement, Rose said in
closing, and he thinks that multiple learning models will be the next big
thing in education. "We need states to be on the leading edge of these
developments, and maybe Minnesota is the state to do that. It's a
nonpartisan issue. What we need are states that want to figure out how to
nurture these new ideas and then ultimately move them into traditional
public schools, he added, since those schools continue to house the
majority of students."