In the U.S., one student drops out of school every 12 seconds. That’s 1,129,291 students so far this school year, according to Big Picture Learning (BPL) – a nonprofit organization that was founded in Rhode Island back in 1995 by Dennis Littky and Elliot Washor, who insisted that education is everyone’s business.
In fact, the two men made that the company’s motto in their goal to demonstrate that schooling and education can and should be radically changed to the benefit of the student. What these two educators envisioned was an environment where schools would start with a student’s interest and build a curriculum around it rather than start with a curriculum and force students to fit in.
And therein lies the common thread between Big Picture Learning and Eagle Rock — a shared belief that students need to be reengaged in their own learning. The founders of BPL believe students should spend considerable time doing real work in the community under the tutelage of volunteer mentors, meaning they wouldn’t be evaluated solely on the basis of standardized tests.
That doesn’t mean students in Big Picture schools can just take a pass on a formal education. In truth, they still must meet each state or district’s requirements for graduation. No alternative or lower, softer standards here.
Rather, Big Picture schools focus on a high school experience that leaves students well prepared for college — and the world of work. In fact, students in BPL schools are held to higher levels of academic and professional standards as they complete their in-school advisory, as well as the real-world work of their internship site.
As a result, BPL students are assessed on their performance — on exhibitions and demonstrations of achievement, on motivation, and on the habits of mind, hand, heart, and behavior that they display — all reflecting the real world evaluations and assessments that all of us face in our everyday lives.
Due to the efforts of Littky and Washor, the state of Rhode Island took a close look at Continue reading…