Joel Rose, the co-founder and chief executive officer of the School of One, a New York City math program with some big-name supporters, including technology giants Microsoft Corp. and Cisco Systems, announced last week that he will be leaving to launch his own nonprofit group with the aim of spreading the model beyond the city.
Mr. Rose, who conceived the idea of using an algorithm to personalize math instruction on netbooks using different content providers and different approaches—individual, small-group, and large-group work, for example—launched the program as a pilot in summer 2009. In the School of One, math lessons are turned into individualized “playlists” that allow students to progress at their own pace and that gather data to let teachers know when those students need help.
The program, which won a $5 million federal Investing in Innovation, or i3, grant in September, is still in its first full year of implementation as a complete math curriculum in grades 6-8. There were plans to expand to four additional schools using the i3 grant money, but with Mr. Rose’s departure, it is unclear if those will be delayed.
The current School of One team will continue its operations under the umbrella of the New York City Innovation Zone, and Jonathan Werle, who was the project’s director of administration, will become the project manager, according to Mr. Rose.
In an interview, Mr. Rose said his team had been exploring ways to set up a “captive” nonprofit within the New York City Department of Education for more than a year, which would mean the city’s schools chancellor would have final say over the program’s direction. But within the past several weeks, Mr. Rose said, it became evident to him that establishing the organization as a “noncaptive” nonprofit outside the system would be in the best interest of raising funds for the project and ensuring its survival.
The city department of education indicated it would continue to support the School of One in its current form.
“We’re truly grateful to Joel for his contribution to the students of New York City,” department spokesman Matthew Mittenthal said in an e-mail. “Joel’s work has helped improve and personalize learning for students across three different schools, where the School of One will continue to operate after his departure.”
By leaving the city education department, Mr. Rose will lose use of the programs name and will be restricted from collaborating with anyone else on the School of One team for a year unless he is granted a waiver by the city’s conflict-of-interest board. He said he hopes to be granted such a waiver, but is not certain he will be.
A version of this article appeared in the March 30, 2011 edition of Education Week as Co-Founder Leaving School of One