Looking at the Numbers: What Scales in K-12, Anyway?

Alex Hernandez:

Last week, I heard the following exchange between an education entrepreneur and a philanthropist for 9,358th time:

Education entrepreneur: “I want to start a [insert new idea].”

Philanthropist: “Great. How is it going to scale?”

I work for an education philanthropy with the word “growth” in its name. I love the scale. And even I finally cracked. What do we mean when we say “scale” in education?!

I haphazardly started listing out K12 organizations, programs, policies and ideas, along with estimates of the number of students reached per year. Student reach statistics were drawn from the National Center for Education Statistics, organizational websites, articles and other general web research, and spanned 2012 to 2014. (Disclaimer: this is an informal thought exercise, not a PhD dissertation). Here’s what I came up with: