Odyssey High School Designated an ‘Innovative School’

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Students at Odyssey High School will not be required starting this fall to earn “traditional credits and graduation requirements,” but instead will be expected to demonstrate mastery of core skills and concepts, known by educators as “competencies.”

The school has won designation by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the state board of education as an “innovative school,” which will permit Odyssey to take an innovative approach to education and graduation.

“This has been our vision for several years, to be able to use competencies authentically, without the antiquated system of credits that limits learning time and implies that everyone learns at the same pace,” says Odyssey Principal Joan Ferrigno. “We want our students to know what they’re learning and why they’re learning it at all times.”

“Anyone entering an Odyssey classroom should be able to say to any student, ‘Tell me what you are learning today’, and hear a coherent response that not only defines the competency, but also how the student is attempting to demonstrate proficiency,” Ferrigno said.

Odyssey must show improved student achievement each year on a variety of measures in order to keep the system in place through the 2020, the district said.

Current seniors will continue to accrue traditional credits to ensure they are eligible for college. Odyssey counselor Brenda Day is currently designing an alternative transcript that clearly describes the school’s academic program and demonstrates the rigor and relevance of courses. She is gathering input from universities and colleges throughout the state to ensure that the new transcript provides the documentation institutions expect to see from college applicants.

Starting with the class of 2013, the district said students will graduate based on demonstrated mastery of competencies. Students will show proficiency through portfolios of their work and exhibitions, or presentations, of their learning.

Instead of traditional grade levels, Odyssey students will move from the Foundational House (typically ninth and tenth graders) to the Advanced House (upper classes). The Highline District said the school is developing standards for evaluating the “Odyssey Rites of Passage”, a project that will mark advancement from the Foundational House to the Advanced House.

Odyssey is currently taking applications for the 2012-13 school year.

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