Annual National Hybrid Schools Conference

The National Hybrid Schools Project will host the annual National Hybrid Schools Conference in spring 2023. The conference will provide:

  • Networking and idea-sharing among hybrid home school leaders, educators, policymakers, and researchers;

  • The promotion of academic research on these types of schools;

  • Practical discussions of the issues involved with starting hybrid homeschools and microschools;

  • A platform for other parties interested in education choice generally, as hybrid home schools are perhaps the most independent, creative, and cutting edge sector of the education choice universe.

Watch this page for updates.

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2023 Conference Agenda

  • All Conference sessions/events will be held at the Atlanta Renaissance Waverly

    Friday, April 28
    Evening Reception (6:00-8:00)

    Saturday, April 29
    Breakfast and Exhibits (7:30-8:45)

  • Hybrid and microschools have a variety of origins. Some start as groups of full-time homeschoolers, some start as ministries of churches, and some are more like new independent schools. Though they may not always think of themselves this way, hybrid school founders and leaders are running startup organizations, and use (or need) many of the entrepreneurial skills as other startup founders. In the opening whole-group session, hybrid school founders and leaders will discuss how their schools began, and how hybrid schools are excellent examples of entrepreneurship in education.
  • Instructional Issues in Hybrid Schools 

    Panelists in this session will address instructional issues specific to hybrid schools: For example, how hybrid school teachers might think about their pacing, the amount of work they give on home days, or how they deal with varying skill levels differently in a hybrid school compared to how they might in a five-day school or a fulltime homeschool setting.

    Startup Support Organizations 

    Although many hybrid and microschools are independent startup operations, meant to serve a very local clientele, there are several organizations which work to start, grow, and support this schooling sector.  This panel includes representatives from several national and local groups that work to help the startup hybrid schools and microschools and to support them, to discuss topics including who they are, what they do, and how schools or potential schools might interact with them.

    Zoning Issues and Other Threats 

    Historically, hybrid schools and microschools have often been left alone by state and local regulators.  They have historically been too rare to garner much notice.  As this sector grows, this is less and less the case.  In 2022, a number of these schools came under threat from a new direction: local zoning ordinances.  Panelists in this session will discuss a recent situation several Georgia hybrid schools faced in this way, how they responded, and how we might consider this issue in the future.

    Open for Business: The Economics of Unconventional Education

    VELA supports the largest community of everyday entrepreneurs in unconventional education in the United States, with over 2,000 investments made and $24 million disbursed since 2019. A recent survey of VELA’s grant recipients revealed the many unique ways that these entrepreneurs are growing and sustaining their community-responsive programs. Hear from the entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders who are catalyzing innovation in K-12 education and explore one-of-a-kind insights into the rapidly growing unconventional education market.

    Policy and Accountability 

    The policy landscape around hybrid and microschools is evolving very quickly.  Policymakers are increasingly aware of these schools and interested in them, for a variety of reasons.  Other schools are increasingly seeing them as competition.  Panelists in this session will discuss the policy landscape of hybrid and microschools from a variety of perspectives, and will especially focus on the question of what “accountability” means for these schools…or if it is relevant at all. 

    Exhibitor Session and Break (11:00-11:30)

  • Teachers as Entrepreneurs 

    Although hybrid and microschools have existed for several decades, the past few years have generated enormous creative and entrepreneurial energy in this sector.  Individual teachers have many more opportunities for launching new and creative school models.  Panelists in this session will discuss their experiences as teachers founding brand-new schools, and how teachers themselves can think about starting their entrepreneurial ventures.

    Classical Hybrid Schools

    The classical renewal in K12 education has followed a similar course to the development and growth of hybrid schools, moving from relative obscurity to a much higher profile over the past 15-20 years.  A high percentage of hybrid schools, and especially newer hybrid schools, follow a classical approach.  This has implications for curriculum, pedagogy, teacher and student recruitment, and many other areas.  Panelists in this session will discuss why, and in what ways, classical schooling and hybrid schooling seem to be a match.

    Elected/Appointed Officials 

    Elected and appointed officials at the state and local levels have had increasing interest in addressing the growth of hybrid and microschools.  Often these officials are sympathetic and are willing to help support and encourage these schools, but are unsure how to proceed.  This panel consists of a state board member, a state legislator, and a local school board member from various states, to talk about their experiences with hybrid and microschool policy.

    West Virginia’s Hope Scholarship 

    In 2022, the State of West Virginia enacted a large-scale education savings account (ESA)-style program, known as the Hope Scholarship.  This program will enable significantly more West Virginia students to attend hybrid schools. Panelists in this session will discuss the landscape of ESAs across the country, the specific history of the West Virginia bill, and its practical effects for families and hybrid schools. 

    Knocking Down Siloes: Brainstorming Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships

    A lot of educational research is useless. For a host of complicated (and not so complicated) reasons, education researchers are incentivized to conduct research that is good for publishing in respected journals, but not necessarily for answering the questions of the people doing the educating. Researchers need three things. Questions to ask, data to analyze, and techniques to analyze it. They are prepared very well for the third but often struggle with the first and the second. Practitioners have questions that they want to be answered, and data to be analyzed, but often lack the time or technical training to do so. The purpose of this session is a kind of matchmaking exercise between researchers and practitioners. We will ask both groups to come up with questions that they are interested in answering and ways in which they are willing to work with others to establish research partnerships. Ideally, this will generate both a research agenda for the field and the beginnings of collaborations that will tackle it.

  • For the conference lunch session, James Tooley of the University of Buckingham will discuss his work with low-cost schools run by education entrepreneurs all over the world, and lessons for American hybrid schools and microschools. (Room 400)
  • Home/School Relationships in Hybrid Schools 

    Hybrid schools have unique relationships with their families that are somewhat different from five-day schools and are also not quite like fulltime homeschooling.  Panelists in this session will address questions such as: What exactly do/can you expect from parents?  How might a school address discipline issues? How might a school deal with sports, college admissions, extracurriculars, etc.? 

    Innovation through Microschools 

    Many exciting new ways of teaching and learning exist and are being developed in hybrid schools and microschools.  All of this can be drastically different compared to what can be done in conventional schools in areas such as the importance and role of community, parents’ roles, and others.  The panelists in this session represent a variety of microschools and will discuss these issues and others such as: what measuring impact might look like in a microschool, what barriers might be removed to make them more successful, and more.

    Academic Research on Hybrid Schools 

    Most academic research on hybrid and microschools is relatively new, but quality research on these schools is being done.  In this panel, researchers will discuss the latest research on hybrid schools, microschools, and related topics. 

    KaiPod Catalyst Teachers

    KaiPod Catalyst is an accelerator for entrepreneurial educators to launch their microschools in their communities.  Once a year, KaiPod recruits the highest-caliber educators and provides them with the support, expertise, and resources they need to create and sustain innovative microschools.  Over 18 weeks, Founders in the KaiPod Catalyst program will take their microschool vision from “Idea” to “Launch.” The KaiPod team supports them in all aspects of launching their microschool, including marketing, raising capital, selecting a site, operations, hiring, and academic programming. Each cohort culminates in a National Pitch Week, where Founders pitch families in their communities about their learning model.  This session includes a panel discussion with members of the first KaiPod Catalyst Cohort. 

  • Hybrid schools and some forms of microschools have been in existence for decades. Their numbers were growing pre-COVID, but since COVID appeared, the growth of these schools and interest in them has skyrocketed. New startups are interesting and important, and there is a lot of energy around hybrid school and microschool startups lately. But is this energy sustainable? Are we resetting schooling, or are we likely to churn through many new founders and then revert to something like what we had before? Where do all of these schools fit as a new kind of institution in the school choice landscape? What might we expect as this sector grows and matures?  What should we want from it? Panelists in the conference’s closing session will discuss these questions and others.

Details for the 2024 National Hybrid Schools Conference coming soon!