41 Most Innovative K–12 Schools in America

Across the country, 41 innovative schools are transforming K–12 education.

They are doing away with dusty chalkboards, heavy textbooks, one-sided lectures, and bells reminiscent of factory shift-change signals. Some have forgone traditional school buildings altogether.

In place of tried (but not always true) educational standbys, these schools are implementing visionary methodologies and challenging well-established notions about the very nature of primary and secondary education.

Several are empowering students in underserved communities. Many employ revolutionary teaching methods, including flipped classrooms, gamified lessons, phenomenon-based learning, and student-led governance. The schools on this list are also broadening technology use with partnerships between engineers and educators. Some have instituted groundbreaking curricula that drive learning outside the walls of classrooms and even schools entirely. A few have reconceptualized the very idea of a school by creating inspiring learning environments in unexpected places, and by using architectural design to guide learning. From zoos to state-of-the-art tech labs, highly tailored individualized lessons to collaborative group projects, these schools’ sites and sources of learning all share one feature in common: They redefine what education at its best could — and should — look like.

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Clairemont Elementary School
Clintondale High School
Ewa Makai Middle School
Francis C. Hammond Middle School
Grand Rapids Public Museum School
Harvey Milk High School
Lake View High School
Loving High School
MAST Academy
Pathways in Technology Early College High School
Quest to Learn
Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy
Vergennes Union High School
Visitacion Valley Middle School
Wyoming Indian Elementary School
The Young Women's Leadership School of East Harlem
Zoo School


Avenues: The World School
The Center School
Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences
DePaul Cristo Rey High School
Fusion Academy
Interlochen Arts Academy
The Mountain School
Saint Ann's School
Shady Hill School
Sudbury Valley School
THINK Global School


Alliance School
Compass Charter School
Democracy Prep Public Schools
e3 Civic High
Evergreen Community Charter School
FirstLine Schools
Harlem Children's Zone Promise Academy Charter Schools
KIPP Public Charter Schools
Minnesota New Country School
Richard Wright Public Charter School for Journalism and Media Arts
STAR School
Uncommon Schools

shan palmer