School Features Real-World Learning, No GradesIt's hard to imagine a school with no tests, no grades and no classes. But those familiar elements of education are missing at two dozen Big Picture schools in six states. Margot Adler visits one called The Met, the 10-year-old model for the schools, in Providence, R.I.
Met school director Dennis Littky meets with students (from left) Kyle Williams, Jesse Jones and Audris Valdez.
During her internship with a pediatrician, Met School junior Vimar Rodriguez, left, helps a nurse give a shot to a 14-year-old patient.
Margot Adler, NPR
Margot Adler, NPR
Students at The Met must give an oral presentation of their projects and internships. Odyssey Smith, who interned at a local hospital, discusses her research on hypertension.
Web Extra Audio
Dennis Littky is co-founder of the Big Picture schools and is director of one of them, The Met Center in Providence, R.I. Hear Littky on:
The challenges of creating a school like The Met and in creating rigor in the student's projects
The question: How do you make the outside world understand what you do?
Creating Big Picture schools around the U.S., and the difficulty of getting good teachers
How kids in good schools are losing out too, and why The Met's accomplishments matter for everyone
It's hard to imagine a school with no tests, no grades and no classes. But those familiar elements of education are missing at two dozen Big Picture schools in six states, each with no more than 120 students.
They emphasize work in the real world, portfolios, oral presentations and intense relationships between students and advisers. Margot Adler visits one of the schools, called The Met, the 10-year-old model for the schools, in Providence, R.I.
Students are encouraged to discover their passions, interning two days a week with mentors in the community who relate those passions to the real world. The student might work at a hospital, a bakery, or an architectural firm. School projects are designed by the mentor, the adviser and the student together -- and are presented orally, along with a portfolio, every nine weeks.
Vimar Rodriguez, an 11th grader interested in medicine, has a neighborhood pediatrician as a mentor. Dr. Hector Cordero says she knew little when she started interning at his office.