Expanding support for districts nationwide with new approaches to professional development and the products schools need to shift to learner-centered models
SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 28, 2019 -- AltSchool announced today sweeping changes to bring its professional learning services and products to more districts and schools nationwide. This fall, the company will become Altitude Learning, an educator-run startup powering the growing learner-centered movement. In the coming months, Altitude Learning will unveil professional development services and products. With the R&D focus of its journey complete, tech co-founders Max Ventilla and Bharat Mediratta will transition to Board roles, with Ventilla serving as Chairman of the Board. Long-time education leaders Ben Kornell and Devin Vodicka will lead the company as it scales to meet the needs of more schools around the country.
When AltSchool started in 2013, the movement for a learner-centered education was far less developed. Today, schools are striving to create an educational model that balances academics and social-emotional learning, fosters student agency and helps children become drivers of their own learning. Schools across the country are now embracing the shift, with early trailblazing districts serving as models for what’s possible. Organizations like Education Reimagined, Digital Promise, and Knowledge Works are establishing strong frameworks to guide schools through the process of evolving the educational model.
“Our belief that every child deserves access to a better quality education was the catalyst to explore how technology might make learning more equitable and meaningful,” said Max Ventilla, AltSchool’s co-founder. “AltSchool is unique in that we were able to devote a considerable amount of resources to edtech research and development, never forgetting that ‘ed’ should always drive ‘tech’, not the other way around. The shift from AltSchool to Altitude Learning represents a fundamental transition from an important R&D phase to a new chapter. We’ve tapped Ben and Devin as trusted education veterans to guide the company moving forward, as we support schools nationwide to shift to learner-centered education.”
Altitude Learning will officially launch this fall with its first new products and professional development services. These offerings were co-developed by hundreds of teachers within the partner and lab school network. Today, there are 40 districts and schools, representing more than 300,000 students, which make up the Altitude Learning partner network. Half of the new partners who joined for the upcoming school-year represent public districts, from Alaska to Texas.
“In a time of rapid changes in the world around us, schools need creative ways to connect and collaborate so that we can promote collective improvement,” said Devin Vodicka, AltSchool’s Chief Impact Officer. "Through AltSchool's R&D we have built customizable and flexible solutions to support and accelerate schools in their shift to new learning models. Every district and school is unique, and faces a complex array of challenges. Being able to apply the learnings of the last six years to everything from change management support to thoughtful integration of technology, has the potential to be a gamechanger.”
“Menlo Park City School District teachers consider how their practice can best meet individual needs and engage all students in learning, and AltSchool's technology is one tool we use to that end,” said Erik Burmeister, superintendent of Menlo Park City School District. “An innovative district like ours can only work with a product that puts teachers first, offers a true partnership and customer service to allow full customization. The flexibility AltSchool offers is crucial in allowing teachers to determine what content and practices best meet their and their students’ needs. Expanding our partnership to more sites and classrooms is a next step in realizing our educational vision.”
“Design39Campus is a learner-centered lab school,” said Joseph Erpelding, principal of Design39Campus, a top-rated public school located in San Diego’s Poway Unified School District. “Our partnership with AltSchool has allowed us to nurture creative confidence, practice design thinking, learn through inquiry, connect globally, and to promote the courage and growth mindset necessary to support life-ready, thought leaders who elevate humanity.”
A Partnership: Higher Ground Education and AltSchool
Higher Ground Education, an international network of more than 40 schools, will assume operations of AltSchool’s lab schools. Each will continue to be a learner-centered community, led by AltSchool’s faculty, using the Altitude Learning platform. The decision to partner with a new organization to run the schools was made in collaboration with 100-person parent and educator steering committees that spent months evaluating the best options to create long-term sustainability for each campus.
“We’re excited to welcome these four incredible school communities to our network,” said Ray Girn, Higher Ground Education’s founder and CEO. “Together, the students, families, and educators at these schools have built powerful examples of what can happen in learner-centered environments. The Higher Ground network will benefit from these four new schools, and from the connection to the growing Altitude Learning network.”
This collaboration brings out the best in both organizations. AltSchool’s lab schools get the benefit of future stability by being part of an organization dedicated to running schools, as well as access to HGE’s deep Montessori expertise. HGE gets the benefit of integrating exceptional schools that are grounded in AltSchool’s approach to a learner-centered education.
Altitude Learning will remain headquartered in San Francisco.