Schooling Magazine

Big Picture

By Stevemiranda

If you don’t know about Big Picture High School in the Highline School District, you should.

It’s the opposite of everything you think about when you hear the word “school.” There are no bells. In fact, a lot of the time there aren’t even any classes. Students spend two days each week off campus at an internship—students, not staff, are responsible for setting up the internship themselves—and spend the remaining days working through an individualized learning plan created collaboratively between the student and his or her advisor.

Big Picture has led all high schools in its district on survey data that asked questions like, “The things I learn at school prepare me for post-high school education or training” and “My teachers have high expectations of me.” It has the lowest percentage of students who say, “I am bored in my classes” and who report spending time doing “busy work that is meaningless.”

This is what we used to call an “alternative school.” Now, it’s a mainstream school for the 21st century.

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