In his 2013 book on the relationship between learning and play, psychologist and Noodle Expert Peter Gray calls Sudbury Valley School “the best-kept secret in American education.”
Former students seem to agree. According to the results of a 1986 study, 75 percent of SVS alumni successfully pursued higher education, and as a whole, benefited from high employment rates. These numbers have only improved over time. The 2005 book The Pursuit of Happiness: The Lives of Sudbury Valley Alumni surveyed 119 graduates about their post-SVS lives. Respondents discussed their experiences in higher education, in their careers, and in their relationships with others. Eighty-two percent of respondents reported pursuing formal study after their time at SVS. Those who did not attributed their choice to a feeling of readiness to pursue their professional careers. Of those who did pursue higher education, many attended top-tier schools such as UC–Berkeley, Wesleyan, and Columbia University; moreover, 80 of the 119 respondents went on to attend graduate school. Graduates also reported the nonacademic influence that SVS had. Respondents wrote that their alma mater had a positive impact on their attitude toward relationships with others, and that it fostered independence and self-realization.
How is Sudbury Valley School’s innovation relevant to the larger ed space?
Since the founding of Sudbury Valley School, about 40 other schools promoting the Sudbury model have opened around the world. These have helped popularize a combination of unschooling — a movement that removes children from the structures of traditional education — and civic education. (In a study of 232 families who practiced unschooling, the reported benefits of this learning model included an increased sense of curiosity.) The civic education component in particular has established a model for integrating citizenship into learning; students who attend SVS and other free, democratic schools are encouraged to become responsible, active members of society. Finally, SVS models how a private education can be affordable for middle-class families. It and other free, democratic schools tend to have much more affordable tuition than other private schools, and some even use sliding scales to adjust costs depending on a family's income, a practice that allows them to draw relatively diverse student bodies.
From Noodle.com The 41 Most Innovative Schools in America. Read more here.