Carpe Diem


Carpe Diem increases individual student instruction and targeted intervention through a rotation program and staffing model

What does the model look like?

  • Students spend at least half of their day working independently in a computer lab
  • Teachers run workshops and discussion groups to reinforce material

How does it work?

  • Student data drives content assignments and workshop placement

How is it used?

  • Approx. 250 students grades 6-12 are enrolled in Carpe Diem’s flagship school in Yuma, AZ

What is the background?

  • Carpe Diem started as a single charter school in Yuma, AZ
  • Has branched out into fully online schools in Arizona and is now expanding to other states, with six already approved charters in Indiana

The use of technology to transform teaching and learning is enabled by transformative changes to school design


  • The day is divided into 55-minute blocks; additional activities and classroom instruction ensure students are not online continuously and all have opportunities for personal instruction. Students who demonstrate mastery work remotely on Fridays

Staffing Model

  • One teacher instructs all students in each core subject, running workshops and lessons; assistant coaches monitor activity on learning lab floor and provide assistance to students as needed

Physical Space

  • The learning lab has 300 cubicles with individual desktops assigned to students; small classrooms with glass walls and doors for workshops line computer lab. The smaller, simpler facility makes the building less expensive and more easily replicated


  • Structural and staffing adjustments have led to a reduction in the cost of educating; Carpe Diem costs $5,300/student

What's New

The model emphasizes independence of student learning, depth of teacher-student relationships and targeted, data-driven instruction

Students spend half the day online, but receive above average targeted live instruction

  • Students work through a personalized calendar of assignments for the week at their own pace
  • Teaching aides (“Assistant Coaches”) help troubleshoot on modules and provide general emotional support
  • Students are pulled into classrooms in groups ranging from 1:1 tutoring to 25-student classes for live instruction, group discussion and workshops, receiving more personal attention than average students

Teachers provide supplemental instruction and intervention, rather than basic skill coverage

  • Each teacher – known as a coach - covers a single subject area for all students; teachers track students over time and have access to comprehensive digital records
  • Large pockets of open time enable teachers to pull groups or individuals for instruction and discussions at their own discretion

School leaders are integrally involved in day-to-day instruction

  • The principal walks the floor of the computer lab, visits with students and occasionally pulls students into small group instruction – the result of a lean staffing model and self-disciplined student body


What's Working

Carpe Diem aspires to deliver personalized, effective instruction, to motivate learning, and to optimize the role of the teacher

Students receive instruction targeted to their learning needs and pace

  • Carpe Diem has had the highest ranking student achievement scores in Yuma County for the past four years and led the state in student growth in the last two years
  • “Nobody learns the same subject at the same pace or with the same abilities… we start students where they are and move them along at their own pace. We try to de-systematize everything” – Founder

Students are more motivated to engage and learn

  • Carpe Diem has a 92% graduation rate compared to 67% graduation rate for all Arizona students
  • “I love computers and I work with them as much as I can… I like learning this way”  – Student

Teacher time is maximized by focusing on delivering targeted instruction in their core expertise areas

  • Carpe Diem students spend more one-on-one time with teachers than students in the average school with instructional workshops targeted to specific skill areas and critical thinking development
  • “Assessment occurs literally every day and the data is aggregated. Teachers go through that data and do immediate intervention” – Teacher
  • Teacher-student interactions are more meaningful and developed over the long term
  • Teachers build unique relationships with students; school staffing model means teachers follow each student from middle school through high school and closely track skill retention
  • “I’m delivering the sixth grade skills these students will need in high school and then get to make sure those skills are still intact” – Teacher
  • “The model allows for better teacher-student relationships” – Teacher



  • Students access interactive online content covering all core subjects with virtual tutorials, video explanations and links to external material through a single centralized platform


  • Each student’s calendar of assignments is generated for the week, and adjusted based on performance and completion


  • Daily assessment data is aggregated on central platform and made widely accessible to students, educators and parents; students receive motivational badges and recognition based on performance


  • Each student is assigned to a desktop computer in the learning lab for the year; teachers and assistant teachers are able to watch student progress live on their own monitors