May 28, 2024 - News

AI-focused private school expands

Illustration of a test sheet with bubbles filled with letters A and I inside

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Alpha School, the private school that made headlines last year for its AI-powered, two-hour learning periods, is expanding in Austin.

Why it matters: An increasing share of Austin kids are heading to private schools as public schools struggle to attract and keep students.

Driving the news: Alpha officials tell Axios they'll open three more Austin-area schools for students this fall — an Esports Academy in Northwest Austin for fifth to eighth graders, a K-8 GT School for the Gifted and Talented in Georgetown and a K-8 Lake Travis Sports Academy.

  • The new sites will continue to use Alpha's two-hour learning program, which uses an AI-assisted application for core subjects with supervisors called "guides" in the room instead of teachers.
  • The remaining four hours of the day will be set aside for sports, esports or advanced academic challenges — depending on the school — with their own measurements to pass the curriculum.

What they're saying: "There's a way we can get kids learning twice as fast in a fraction of the time, and all you have to do to do that is leverage all the ed tech has to offer us," Jamal Gross, head of school for the Lake Travis Sports Academy, told Axios from Alpha's existing K-8 campus on Spyglass Drive.

  • "It's not something that is built for the elite athlete," Gross said of his new sports program, adding that students won't begin specializing in certain sports until they're older. "From K-8, just fall in love with moving."
A photo of a student learning on a computer.
An Alpha student learns on a computer. Photo: Courtesy of Gaby Guajardo/Alpha School

Zoom in: Alpha, which was founded in 2014, has an accredited high school in downtown Austin and a K-8 school in west Austin, along with schools in Miami and Brownsville.

  • Each of the three new schools, which are not accredited, will have 25-30 students to start.
  • Tuition is $25,000 annually.

Between the lines: The growth in the share of Austin kids going to private school also comes as our city becomes wealthier.

What's next: Enrollment is now open for the new Alpha schools, which will open this fall.

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