10 Reasons Every District Should Open a Flex School

Source: Getting Smart blog, May 2012

There are 10 existing or potential benefits of flex models:

  1. Competency-based: Students progress based on demonstrated mastery; they use cohort groups and teams when and where they are helpful.
  2. Customized experience: Flex models make it easy to customize the experience for each student. As platforms get more robust, student pathways will become more customized (by interest, modality, motivation, and schedule).
  3. Portable and flexible: Students can take a flex school on the road for a family vacation or for a work or community-based learning experience.
  4. Accelerated learning: Flex models allow students to move at their own pace. For students with partial content knowledge but credit deficiencies, the ability to move quickly and test out of topics they have mastered may allow them to earn credits at 150% of the normal rate.
  5. Productive operations: Flex models have the potential to operate at lower cost than alternative education models.
  6. Save rural high schools. Flex models make it easy to run very good very small high schools.  Where it would have been difficult to serve 100 students with a traditional comprehensive high school model, a flex program can offer every AP course, every foreign language, every high level STEM course–all in an affordable and well supported environment.
  7. New staffing models. Flex models make use of differentiated (levels) and distributed (locations) staffing.  As Opportunity Culture notes, we need to invent new ways to leverage talent with technology and flex models will be the source of the most interesting and productive staffing strategies.
  8. Early college. Flex models facilitate college credit accumulation in high school.  Look for AP, dual enrollment, and career/major specific models.  Flex students should be able to finish high school in three years with a year of college credit.
  9. Leverage local assets. Flex models the unique ability to leverage community assets like museums, theaters, historical sites, and natural resources and to link to emerging industry clusters and internship opportunities.
  10. Site visits. For many of us site visits are the most important component of professional learning.  Experiencing competency-based blended learning with innovative staffing and scheduling is far more powerful than reading about it.
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