Setting the Record Straight on School of One

If you happened to read the New York Daily News story on School of One last week, you should read this as well.

School of One is an innovative middle school math program that based on a high-tech system that helps teachers determine students’ daily learning needs, and then enables them to work with students in small groups and to get detailed data about students’ progress. School of One has been honored by TIME Magazine as one of its top 50 inventions in 2009, and in 2010 and was named a Robin Hood Hero. School of One is a NewSchools venture, and NewSchools featured the program in a widely seen video on education innovation.

The Daily News story might have left you with the impression that School of One “had disappointing results” and that two of the three schools that originally piloted the program had dropped it as a result. We would like to set the record straight that every word in that sentence is untrue, “including ‘and’ and ‘the,’” as author Mary McCarthy once said.

Let’s take the two claims one to time: first, disappointing results, and second, that some early pilot schools left of the consequence of those results.

The article is largely based on the study of the first year of School of One. Even the authors of the study caution against using it as a basis for evaluation; the results in the study are early and mixed, and second-year results – to be released within a few weeks – show quite strong results.

Then there is the suggestion that two of the three initial pilot schools pulled out of School of One because of those results. In fact, those decisions were made before the results were available, and for reasons having nothing to do with those results. You have to read deep into the story to note that there are now five schools participating in the School of One program.

On his blog, Rick Hess thoughtfully and thoroughly explains why the Daily News article is “unfair, misguided, and destructive.” If you take the Daily News article at all seriously, you should read his piece.

UPDATE: More on School of One’s record in a terrific piece by Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and former president of Teachers College, Columbia University in the NY Daily News today. And another from Michael Horn.

Meanwhile, NewSchools has a terrific video up featuring the So1 founders, Joel Rose and Chris Rush, that debuts today. Check it out here.


  1. Didn’t the NY state test scores already come out?

    1. Yup. However, before I put out any discussion of the scores, I’m hoping to have the similar-schools comparison from NYCDOE in hand.

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