New Designs for School
New Designs for School

We’ve all had the experience of truly purposeful, authentic learning and know how valuable it is. Educators are taking the best of what we know about learning, student support, effective instruction, and interpersonal skill-building to completely reimagine schools so that students experience that kind of purposeful learning all day, every day.

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Primary Contact Name:
Oliver Sicat
Award Date:
February 2012
Grant Type:
National Launch
Start Date:
Fall 2012
Startup Type:
New School

School Name: USC Hybrid High
Grades Served: 9-12
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Operator: Ednovate
Operator Type: Charter
Setting: Urban
Students at Start: 125
Students at Capacity: 460

Blended Model Type: Flex

Key Features: Competency-based Learning, Performance Assessments, Higher Education Partnership

When designing a new high school in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) Rossier School of Education started by zeroing in on the problem:

Nationwide, just 8% of kids growing up in low-income communities graduate from college by age 24. The neighborhoods surrounding USC are no exception to this pattern with less than 8% of adults having a four-year college degree.

Despite the challenge, an increasing body of evidence demonstrates that students from low-income communities can achieve at the highest levels if they are held to high expectations, provided the right supports, and engaged in more personalized learning. The solution: a college preparatory high school that combines a traditional “no excuses” school culture with a personalized learning academic model that embeds technology across the curriculum and school day.

The school’s goal is to develop self-motivated and disciplined learners who are prepared to thrive at and graduate from top four-year universities, who will go on to use their college degrees to effect Positive Multigenerational Change (PMC).

To close the college graduation gap for the students USC Hybrid High serves, the following core beliefs are interwoven throughout the school’s design.

Purpose: If students are driven by a deep sense of purpose to use their college degrees and their careers, they will be more likely to persist through college graduation. Students will graduate from high school seeing themselves as agents for Positive Multigenerational Change in their family, community, nation, and world, and students complete annual performance tasks sequenced around those four themes.

Personalization: It is possible to significantly advance the academic proficiency and depth of learning in students through a mastery-based personalized college prep curriculum, therefore increasing the number of students who graduate from college. The school is building upon the impact of the many high-performing charters that are already doing great work by integrating technology to personalize the learning experience, resulting in a more rigorous and engaging program that meets the unique needs of all students. Its blended learning model allows for more efficient use of student and teacher time, creating space for the deep learning that happens with PMC performance tasks.

Mindsets: The school believes in developing the mindsets needed to thrive in and persist through college graduation. The student experience (face-to-face and online) is designed to intentionally develop the traits of integrity, entrepreneurialism, mastery, and joy, aligned with the belief that if students carry these mindsets through their college experience, they will be more likely to persist through college graduation.

USC Hybrid High students’ core instruction is delivered through online “modules” that teachers develop in the online learning management system, Canvas. Students work independently or in strategic grouping arrangements on self-guided lessons created and curated by their teachers. Students have control over the pace at which they work as long as they are meeting a minimum expected pace established by the teacher. Students who are able to move quickly through lessons will be able to do so and then either move on to the next lesson or complete enrichment activities; students who need to work more slowly are able to get the support they need, reviewing content from earlier in the lesson or pressing “pause” on a video to practice another problem. Teachers serve as facilitators and coaches, providing support to all students throughout the lesson or implementing interventions as needed.

Because of the online coursework that is a significant part of the school’s instructional model, teachers have access to a constant flow of real-time data with which to evaluate students’ progress. Equipped with a wide variety of instructional strategies, teachers can quickly provide interventions (such as one-to-one instruction, small group pullouts, reteaching/remediation using another modality, or peer-to-peer support), in the moment to ensure that instruction is constantly meeting the needs of all students.

Students are also required to complete quarterly performance tasks designed to extend and authenticate their core academic activities. Aligned with the school’s mission of Positive Multigenerational Change, projects have oral and written components and correspond with annual themes of “know yourself,” “know your community,” “know your nation” and “know your world.” Through thematic projects, the school aims to give students a deep sense of purpose and inspire them to make a beneficial contribution to their communities.

USC Hybrid High is the flagship campus of the Ednovate network of innovative high schools. Ednovate opened its second campus in Los Angeles in Fall 2015.