The BPTC Structure - Big Picture Learning

 What is Big Picture Learning?

The Big Picture Learning design is a dynamic approach to education that has been changing the lives of students, educators, and entire communities for over 20 years.  The design focuses on each students’ individual needs and interests, creates curriculum that is relevant in the real world, and encourages quality in learning and work.

BPL schools have produced exceptional rates of success amongst their students, with schools spanning across United States and extending around the world.

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The 10 Distinguishers of Big Picture Learning

Big Picture Learning (BPL) schools are unique environments where students can flourish as individuals within a community of learners, and are centered on the following ten distinguishing characteristics:

  1. Learning in the Real World: LTI (Learning Through Interest)
  2. One Student at a Time: Personalization
  3. Authentic Assessment
  4. School Organization
  5. Advisory Structure
  6. School Culture
  7. Leadership
  8. Parent/Family Engagement: Adult Support
  9. School/College Partnership: College Preparation and Support
  10. Professional Development

Big Picture Learning Statistics

Proficiency statistics for urban Big Picture Learning schools:


Graduation Rate


College Acceptance Rate


Reading Proficiency

Proficiency statistics for local public schools:


Graduation Rate


Reading Proficiency Rate


Math Proficiency Rate

Key Components of the BPTC Structure


Each student works with their advisor and parents to create an individual learning plan that suits their unique learning style, meets each student where they’re at, and incorporates their passions and interests. We believe learning should be relevant to each student, should be interesting, and should continue outside of school walls as they engage in the world around them. Personalization in learning encourages student ownership, high student engagement, and academic success.


High Academic Standards

At BPTC it is our expectation that every student gains the essential skills necessary for college readiness and success in a future career. Each student’s individual learning plan will include intensive math and reading intervention programs, designed to meet each student’s learning level and needs. These programs accelerate achievement and continually challenge students as they advance their knowledge and skill sets. Students master standards through rigorous projects, real-world learning, and student-led exhibitions.

Advisors and Advisory

Advisory is a key component of the BPTC school model. Advisories are made up of 15 students and one advisor, who stay together from 6th-8th grades. A large part of a student’s day is spent in advisory, where students receive individualized instruction, grow in leadership, college, and professional skills, and cultivate a close-knit advisory community that holds each other accountable. Advisory ensures that every student has a one-on-one personal connection with a trusted adult, a support network of peers, and a space to share, celebrate and build on learning. Students, advisors, and parents work together to create each student’s individual learning plan and shape learning around students’ interests. Advisors monitor students’ daily learning to ensure all students master standards at a rigorous level.


Project-Based Learning

Phillips Community School 3Project-based learning centers around the belief that students benefit most from having opportunities to take ownership in their learning. Each student has different interests, gifts, and ways they learn best. Through project-based learning, students work with advisors to imagine and design projects that meet academic standards, set rigorous learning goals, and engage the student. Students develop essential skills in critical thinking, planning, managing, persevering, collaboration, innovation, and creativity. Students also master required research, writing, and speaking skills through project requirements.


Community Involvement

Students will become actively engaged in the community, drawing from community resources and contacts through their projects. Students have the opportunity to explore their interests by drawing from the guidance and insight of community members with expertise in specific fields. BPTC staff and advisors establish relationships with community members, professionals, and business leaders that can offer guidance and insight to students in their projects. For many students in Big Picture Learning schools, these relationships often lead to internships, employment, business partnerships, and future opportunities. Students are introduced to real-world experiences and see a larger connection to their work.


Restorative Practices

BPTC is committed to implementing restorative practices school-wide, in daily practices, and in response to conflict and behavioral infractions. Restorative practices focus on building relationships, creating a strong community, giving everyone ownership in the community, repairing wrongs done, and restoring relationships when they are harmed. Research finds that schools that implement restorative practices have less disruptive and violent behavior, decrease behavioral referrals and suspensions by 60-100%, show improved social skills and social well-being for students, and even improve achievement.