Leaders at Purdue Polytechnic had a vision of a learner-centered, competency-based program from the beginning, but it took about a year to zero in on how exactly to do it. At first, students' schedules were not created by an algorithm, rather by humans, until school leaders realized that the personalized scheduling was extremely tedious, and therefore not scalable.
One of the biggest challenges in model implementation was convincing teachers that knowing content area was no longer the most important aspect of their job. It was now more personalized, more collaborative, and more learner-centered.
Scheduling was also a challenge, especially when the school was manually creating student and teacher schedules.
On a technical level, it has been difficult to find a student information system that works the way Purdue Polytechnic wants it to. The school needs grades to be changeable each year, even from previous years, so that students can track competency growth. No program currently does this, so the school is required to use work-arounds.
Stay focused on why you wanted to do it in the first place, Principal Bess suggests. There will be a thousand things that come up that pull you away from your original vision and back to a traditional model, and it is important to keep in mind why you started.
Purdue Polytechnic has an innovative scheduling system that allows students voice and choice. The system is scalable through the use of technology.
Also, the way in which Purdue Polytechnic uses competencies, in a way that is divorced from content areas, is extremely unique.
Purdue Polytechnic High School, a high school closely associated with Purdue University, uses a truly unique model of competency-based learning. The school uses real-world projects, brought by industry partners, to ground students' learning. Students are assessed in both content area and competencies that reflect the skills that will be needed in students' college and career experiences.
There is no master schedule for students or for faculty. Each student moves about their day using a schedule determined by his or her academic interests and what a custom-created algorithm has determined the student should work on. The same software schedules teachers' days for conducting targeted intervention with students who need it.
Create an environment of academic excellence characterized by industry-focused experiential learning; mentors who nurture, guide and trust; and students who develop a natural thirst to learn in preparation for their lifelong journeys.
Develop a new generation of skilled talent by seamlessly transitioning graduates from high school to college to high-tech and/or high-wage jobs. Successful graduates earn admission to Purdue University and will be prepared to thrive.
Build a culture of communication, collaboration and innovation that creates a positive and supportive environment conducive to high academic achievement.
Purdue University, a top public research institution, is committed to student success, changing how classes are taught with greater focus on faculty-student interaction and creative uses of technology. Through the vision of Purdue University, the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, and the City of Indianapolis, Purdue Polytechnic High School opened with the mission to offer the most beneficial educational experience for students who want to pursue high-tech and STEM-related careers.
COMMUNITY AND STATE SUPPORT
The Purdue Polytechnic High School Indianapolis was created through the vision of leaders at Purdue University and the City of Indianapolis. That vision was supported by several community and industry partners to make the planned August 2017 opening a reality.
The countless people involved in the planning and logistics of starting a charter school were all focused on one mission: offering the best and most beneficial educational experience for Indianapolis students who want to pursue high-tech and STEM-related careers.
Contact: Scott Bess
Contact Title: Head of School
Purdue Polytechnic High School
49 W. Maryland St.
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