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The following design principles guide educators in our portfolio in creating innovative schools:

Intentional Equity

Schools designed for equity challenge our country’s ongoing narrative of disinheritance for some children, based on their race, class, or story. Intentionally equitable schools write a counter-narrative by constructing a school culture of belonging and worth, where children know they are secure, take risks, and push themselves to accomplishment. True equity for children means our aspirations for them are not limited by what has come before—either in a child’s life or in the history of our nation. Transformational schools believe in unbounded potential—a future where “nothing is written.”

Deep, Personal Learning

Schools organized to deliver deep, personal learning are designed to be adaptable, responsive, and challenging for every individual child. Students receive what they need, when they need it, in ways that are personally tailored—slowing down when they need more time, going deeper when their curiosity spikes, even encouraging the pursuit of new interests. These schools emphasize agency—students, themselves, take ownership for the pace and pathway of their learning. They solve problems, make choices, and own the sweet victories that follow sustained, dedicated academic effort.

Expanded Measures of Accountability

Mountain climbers know the danger of pacing only to the “false peak,” the visible, prominent hill preceding (or obscuring) the actual summit. Schools have their own version of false peaks in annual (mandatory) state accountability tests. These tests uncover disparities and track progress, but they can distract educators from deeper learning goals. In transformational schools, success is measured as cumulative, individualized progress toward mastery of core content—knowledge that must be demonstrated with multiple measures of achievement. For these innovative schools, state tests are like a climber’s false peak—a non-negotiable to reach and surpass, with ample reserves of stamina and drive left for the summit.