Intrinsic is a new Chicago network of high-performing public charter schools creating a new school model for 7th-12th grade students. Our Belmont Campus opened in 2013, and will graduate its first class of seniors in 2017. Belmont is a “CPS Level 1+ School,” which is the highest possible performance rating.
To build this new school model we are challenging traditional notions of education. Data shows that students from high-need communities span large ranges—in aptitude, levels of background knowledge, and experience—and we believe this is where today’s factory-model education system breaks down: Just because two children are the same age does not mean they learn at the same pace or should follow the same pathway. Each child has different learning needs at different times, and each child can and must be personally invested in their learning.
At Intrinsic this personalization and independence is achieved via a holistic, 1:1 application of technology to empower team-teaching in flexible, data-driven classrooms—called “pods”—in which upwards of 60 students rotate from independent work, to instruction, to collaboration and project-based learning.
Over the last 50 years the United States spent more money on education than nearly every country in the developed world.
In that time academic attainment levels nationwide are stagnant. Here in Chicago, only 14% of our students earn a four-year college degree, which locks our low-income families in a multi-generational cycle of socioeconomic failure. What is the constant? A factory-based approach to education that teaches to age, not ability. An approach that is least effective when applied to children of greatest need. An approach based on the requirements of an industrial revolution, not a technological one. This is a model problem, not a money problem. At Intrinsic Schools, the model is our mission. Our mission is to create a sustainable, replicable model that prepares all students for postsecondary success: college, career, life.
A critical element of our mission is its sustainability. We will have succeeded if our teachers can create safe, rich learning experiences to all students—regardless of socio-economic status, parental education level, English proficiency, and prior learning difficulties—and do so in an evolved, balanced, and rewarding environment.