Big Picture High Schools Put Students in Charge

Ever wondered what it would be like if students designed their own learning plan and set their own goals?

Have you heard of Big Picture Schools? These are schools in which students design their own learning plan and set their own goals with the help of parents and mentors. They emphasize work in the real world, portfolios, oral presentations and intense relationships between students and advisors. The teachers are called advisors. Currently there are 7500 students in 16 states that are attending these schools. Administrators of these schools have contributed the success and high graduation rate to personalization of student learning. Elizabeth Schneider, vice president of state relations for the nonprofit Alliance for Excellent Education says “tapping into what is relevant, interesting and engaging to the student” is the key.

One student says, "It makes learning more real. I can see how this is preparing us for the real world."

It was reported that 80 percent of students who dropped out of high school would have remained in school if they were provided with real-world learning opportunities.

To learn more about Big Picture Schools go to

Thanks to our Assistant Director of Curriculum, Amaal Awadalla, for sharing this post.


dbittner said…
Very interesting concept and certainly one to look more closely at since recent headlines have been reporting the alarming increase in the drop out rates in our high schools. It doesn't surprise me that this model would have great success since student's are being given choice on what they want to learn, how they want to learn it, and the manner in which they will be held accountable for their learning. How motivating is that?
Kirsten said…
Doesn't it sound like the key "non-negotiables" of Differentiated Instruction?

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