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Big Picture Learning

Page history last edited by kay bird 6 years, 5 months ago

Big Picture Learning is a nonprofit organization that seeks to redesign the structure of education in the United States. This page gives more information about BPL and how their work relates to competency education.


from Making Mastery Work:

Big Picture Learning worked with Big Picture Rochester in Rochester, VT and Big Picture Depot Campus in Storrs-Mansfield, CT.

Context of Competency Education: A high school model based on a highly personalized approach to learning. Known for its full-time advisory structure and careful blending of school, workplace, and community- based learning activities. Serves a wide range of students in both rural and urban settings.

Focus of Grant Project:  To create a user-friendly competency education assessment system that reflects BPL’s deep commitment to “multiple learning domains” (classroom and community-based learning experiences).

What We Are Learning From BPL

Creating a Transparent Mastery and Assessment System

  • One adviser works with a group of 15 students for their entire BPL career, helping each student design and navigate their individualized path to graduation
  • BPL uses a Competency Wheel to develop assessments (View pdf below)

Using Time Flexibly

  • BPL uses key experiences, like quarterly student exhibitions that demonstrate mastery of articulated learning targets, to structure and manage learning time on a large scale— there’s nothing like the deadline of a public presentation, in front of community members, school staff, fellow students, and others, to keep students focused on getting things done.

  • Advisers work with students to create learning that includes out–of-school internships, independent studies, support from out-of-school mentors, projects, “real-life training in real-world work,” and the quarterly exhibitions


Curriculum and Instruction 

  • Big Picture Learning has just launched a three- year project to develop a set of prototypes for “critical reasoning and problem solving” and “communication two of its five learning goals. The prototypes will be designed and field-tested in BPL schools. They will include student performance assessments, support materials for teachers and students, and an orientation, training and support system for advisers.



Competency Education, Data, and Information Technology 

  • Advisors convert student performance into final course grades and complete BPL’s highly detailed narrative assessment for each student. This also allows the school to integrate data on BPL students into the district’s student information system.


Learner Support

  • Each student has an adviser who is the go-to person for students in academic or personal distress. Advisers are charged with getting to know their students, developing strong relationships with them, and supporting them when necessary. However, if a student is in a prolonged crisis, or an event at home or school requires legal intervention, administrators are called upon.

  • Students  select appropriate internships and design independent projects.


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