A Family's Guide to Quest Forward Learning

Quest Forward Learning is the high school program that powers the work of Quest Forward Academies.

Quest Forward Learning was designed to enable high school students to take charge of their learning, to succeed academically, and to develop essential habits and skills. Quest Forward Learning starts with 5 Guiding Principles, which we derived from years of learning science research. These principles inform everything at the school, from how teachers work, how the curriculum is structured, to how student work is assessed.

Learn more about Quest Forward Learning in the sections below, and let us know what you’d like to learn about and see posted to this page in the future.



What is Quest Forward Learning?

Quest Forward Learning is a high school program designed for rigorous academic learning and the development of essential habits and skills students need to succeed in education and career. The program consists of a teaching style we call mentoring; a project-based digital curriculum; a defined set of learning, work and self-management skills each student practices; and feedback-focused assessments instead of traditional grading. The foundation of Quest Forward Learning is the insight that young adults need to own their learning and drive their own success. 

Explore this PDF for a concise overview of the methodology, curriculum, components of courses, and assessments.

Glossary of Terms

For a family that’s new to Quest Forward Academy, there’s a lot of new lingo to learn. Because Quest Forward Learning is so unique, we talk about school and learning in ways that are different from most of our own experiences in school. Our glossary of terms provides you with all the basic terms you’ll need to talk about and understand Quest Forward Learning and your student’s experiences at their school.

This glossary (PDF) describes most of the terms you’ll hear on a day-to-day basis from your student or faculty, from journeys to artifacts and everything in between.

Skills-Forward Learning

Quest Forward Learning uses the phrase “skills-forward” to describe its curriculum and courses because skills growth is integrated into all aspects of the curriculum. At other schools, students focus primarily on what they need to know (or memorize) to demonstrate learning on tests. Gaining skills like researching, analysis, or presenting findings might happen, or might not, as a byproduct of that effort.

At Quest Forward Academy, students gain academic knowledge through their work to develop skills. Developing an important skill is the top priority for every quest.

For example, in the quest What’s the Scoop? three skills are identified as a focus: Compose, Investigate, and Share. Students investigate how ice cream is made, make ice cream and even compose their own recipe, and then share their (hopefully) delicious results and recipes with their peers. Students develop skills as they take on the role of scientists and chefs, but they also learn important science concepts along the way, like states and changes in matter, stoichiometry, compounds, and reactions.

There are three skills frameworks that are at the core of Quest Forward Learning:

  • Essential Habits (or Self Skills)
  • Learning Skills
  • Work Skills

By learning to use and develop these skills, students grow in countless ways and become better equipped to take on any opportunities and challenges their future will bring them. Read about how we define each of the skills frameworks in the pieces below.

Course of Study

The 2021 Course of Study book provides deep insight into the thinking that underlies the Quest Forward Learning curriculum, including courses and journeys offered.

For those who are eager to dig deeper into Quest Forward Learning, its foundational principles, its skills-forward design, and how these come together to constitute a secondary school academic program, they can find the answers in great detail in this 80-page book. It also includes a complete catalog of courses offered at Quest Forward Schools in the U.S.

Read or download the book here.

How does pacing work at Quest Forward Academy?

For most of us, our experience in school was “lock-step” pacing: everyone did the same thing, every class, every day. While this might work some of the time, such as for a class debate, it’s not the most effective approach for every student all the time.

Our goal is to help students become more self-directed and develop self-regulation skills and independence. Semi-flexible and flexible pacing are great approaches for helping students to develop these skills. Also, these approaches provide opportunities for students who already have particular skills and knowledge to take on more challenges, and for those who need more support to get the attention they need.

More About Flexible Pacing at Quest Forward Academies


The Quest Forward Learning Platform is a series of applications that power learning, mentoring, and content development. 

The Quest! Web App

Quest! Web is a web application where students and mentors access the curriculum.  

  • Students use Quest! to complete quests, share artifacts, receive feedback, and reflect on their own progression and growth. Quest! contains assessments for academic learning and skills growth, and produces weekly and term reports and transcripts. 
  • Mentors use Quest! to provide guidance and detailed feedback to students, access target dates and pacing data, and view dashboards detailing student performance and growth.
Other Platform Apps

The Platform includes other apps as well, including QuestCommunity (for school leaders and counselors), and QuestMaker (for quest designers).

A laptop displays a quest about beta testing a projectile launcher in a Quest Forward Learning science course.

Platform FAQs

The Quest! web app login screen shown in a window of a Chrome browser.

Q: How do students and mentors access the Quest! app for use in the classroom?

A: Quest! is available at https://quest.questforward.org for both mentors and students. We recommend bookmarking this page on your web browser.



Q: What browser and device should your student use to access Quest!?

A: Quest! is supported on Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox on Chromebooks and laptops. Quest! will not function well on Apple Safari or Microsoft Internet Explorer/Edge, or on mobile devices. 



Q: What is my student’s username and password?

A: Each person’s username is their school email. Their password was emailed to them at the beginning of the school year. If they forgot their password, it can be reset from the Quest! Login screen.



Q: What should I do if my student can’t access Quest!, has trouble with the app, or thinks they have found a software bug?

A: We have a support team that will help solve any issues you may have. Just send an email to support@opportunityeducation.org, and we’ll respond as quickly as possible! Include the browser that is being used, screenshots if possible, and as much information about the issue as possible.

Students and mentors can also check out the Help Center for a possible solution. The Help Center can be found at https://questforward.zendesk.com/hc/en-us. Use your Quest! App username and password to access the Help Center.



Q: Why do I sometimes see a green bar across the top of my screen that says “Some changes to Quest! are available. Please save your work and update ASAP.”?

A: Periodically the Opportunity Education Platform Team releases updates to the Quest! app including new features, updates to features, or fixes. Sometimes these require users to refresh the app in their browser, and this message bar lets mentors and students know they need to do this. If you’re in the middle of something, we recommend saving your work first. Then click the “Update Quest” button to log out of the app, and then log back in again. If the app doesn’t seem to be working correctly after that, you may need to completely close your browser and reopen Quest!.


Deeper Dive

Publications and Research

Quest Forward Learning wasn’t created out of thin air. Years of research and thoughtful analysis paved the way for it to be established by Opportunity Education’s team of educators, innovators, and academics. Some of this work is available below. Learn why practice is integral to the learning experience, or take a look at the breadth of assessment methods across the secondary education landscape.

The 5 Guiding Principles of Quest Forward Learning
Quest Forward Learning's Skills-Forward Approach: Essential Habits, Learning Skills, and Work Skills
Essential Habits of Quest Forward Learning
Quest Forward Learning - Learning Skills
Quest Forward Learning Work Skills
A PDF flyer of the Quest! FAQs