The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) granted a charter to USC Hybrid High on Dec. 6, paving the way for the school to open near the University Park campus next September.
The school, which is affiliated with the USC Rossier School of Education, will be open up to 12 hours per day, seven days per week and year-round for students who may be at risk of dropping out because they hold jobs or care for family members. Each year, one-third of the students who drop out of high schools in the United States identify those stressors as key factors in their decision to leave school.
USC Hybrid High’s mission is to graduate 100 percent of its high-need students who will be prepared for success at college or in their career and on the same tax dollar as other public schools.
The school earned its name for the combination of online curriculum that students use in the classroom, coupled with face-to-face instruction with teachers and instructional aides on a schedule that meets their needs.
The online coursework – which serves as a “dynamic electronic textbook” – allows students to work at their own pace in the classroom setting until they master a topic. The program delivers real-time feedback to teachers and aides who then give support individually or in groups, said David Dwyer, the school’s executive director and holder of the Katzman/Ernst Chair in Educational Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship at USC Rossier.
Students will meet weekly with an academic adviser and participate in community projects and internships that support the curriculum, Dwyer said.
“The notions of the square box classroom and school don’t necessarily work for everyone; it’s an artifact,” said Melora A. Sundt, associate dean for academic programs and professor of clinical education at USC Rossier.
“We’re creating an environment for testing some of those assumptions by getting down to the bare bones of what learning is all about, and, on the other hand, really harnessing technology to work on behalf of learners,” Sundt said.
Ednovate, a new nonprofit organization, was established to assume responsibility for the school’s day-to-day operation.
USC Rossier launched Ednovate as an organization whose mission is to eliminate the dropout problem and to prepare every student for success in postsecondary education and in the workplace.
Dean Karen Symms Gallagher is chair of Ednovate’s board of directors. Thomas S. Sayles, USC senior vice president for University Relations, also is a member of the governing board.
The school will be located in a renovated space near the University Park neighborhood that is soon to be selected.
In its first year, USC Hybrid High will enroll 150 ninth-graders, advancing to a total enrollment of up to 650 students within four years. Admission will be offered by a random lottery system.
During its first year, the school will hire seven full-time and one part-time certified teachers for a ratio of 20 students for every certified teacher. Including instructional aides, the staff-to-student ratio will drop to 1 to 15.
The LAUSD Board of Education voted to grant the school a five-year charter through 2017.
A number of donors have provided early support, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and entrepreneur Elliot Sainer and his wife Marcia.