October 2021 Curriculum and Instruction Committee

Topic Focus: Continuation Schools

Background: There are 42 continuation schools in LAUSD.  These are small campuses with low student-to-teacher ratios that offer instruction to students, ages 16 and 18, who may be at risk of dropping out due to academic issues or because they must work. While Continuation Schools are often seen as a last chance stop, in truth they provide a second chance at learning in an environment that works for kids.

Expert practitioners and stakeholders discussed how innovative programs at LAUSD Continuation High Schools could be implemented, adjusted, and expanded to schools around the district. Principals, Teachers, Social Workers, parents, and a former student shared their experiences and successes with adding arts to the school curriculum and developing means to address the needs of the whole student.

A major focus was on Big Picture Learning, a network of affiliated high schools that foster individualized and student-centered learning practices. In this program, students and advisors co-design personalized learning experiences based on students’ interests and on workplace-situated learning.

Key Ideas Presented

  • Arts + Support in Continuation Schools—Learning takes on a new look at Simon Rodia Continuation High School where communal art projects and Student Wellness are key elements of the instructional program. Music industry professionals have become involved with the school to help bring a professional recording studio on campus. Staff makes community connections to bring other resources, materials and talent to the campus. These partnerships provide students with the experiences and support not usually seen in continuation school settings. Art and music are therapeutic subjects, but the school also invests in a full-time Psychiatric Social Worker (PSW). Aside from providing wellness and stress management workshops and therapeutic art groups, the PSW has a multi-sensory, nature-inspired Wellness Room for students and staff.
  • Big Picture Learning at Highland Park High School—Highland Park High School is a Big Picture Learning school that employs a whole student approach to teaching. Teachers are “advisors,” with the campus offering one advisor for every 15 students. Students are involved in internships (or other projects). According to Principal Narvaez, community partnerships are key to their program. To set the stage for students from day one, Project Silver Lining is a two-week series of activities that helps students and advisors build relationships and includes yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. Theater workshops also begin early on. Community Based Learning provides opportunities to identify an issue in their community to address, which teaches collaboration and other invaluable skills

View the meeting here: https://lausd.granicus.com/player/clip/3888?&redirect=true