New in fall 2024 - Big Picture Program!

  • Beginning in September 2024, ACES High School will open with a new focus and identity as we launch "Mukilteo Big Picture!" We will have room for 120 students, and the focus will be on students showing their learning by creating projects that grow out of their own unique interests rather than traditional classes and credits.

    Many existing ACES students will continue at Mukilteo Big Picture, but we are actively looking for new students entering grades 9-11 in the 2024-25 school year. If you're interested, you can attend an informational webinar on March 13, or watch the first webinar recorded on Feb. 28.  

    Big Picture Learning
    In 2024, ACES will be part of the Big Picture Learning (BPL) network of schools. BPL was established in 1995 with the sole mission of putting students directly at the center of their own learning. Today there are over 65 Big Picture network schools in the United States, and many more schools around the world in places such as Australia, the Netherlands, Italy and Canada.
    The design of each network school uniquely fits its own students, but the rationale for student-centered learning is consistent:
    • when you learn about what you’re interested in, you learn more deeply;
    • when you connect with experts and do work in the real world, you become better prepared for life after school;
    • when you’re deeply known by multiple adults, you have better outcomes.
    Learning Through Interests, Internships
    Our schedule will designate specific days each week as Learning Through Interests (LTI) days, spent off campus either in-person at a job site or working from home or other remote location. The purpose is not for the student to function as an employee, but rather to develop a relationship with a mentoring adult professional and tackle a real-world project to deepen learning and help students discover their professional interests.
    It will take a while for us to get internships up and running. In the long run, the expectation is that all students spend nearly all that time working with a mentor and working on a mentorship project. This process is monitored and managed by a partnership of the student, their Advisor, the site LTI Coordinator, and the student’s mentor.
    Project-based Learning 
    Central to the Big Picture experience is students acting as agents in their own learning. Starting with their interests, needs, challenges, goals and opportunities, students determine what they need to learn and how they will learn it. Learning is personalized, so project-based learning, rather than teacher-directed units and assignments, is the primary way students engage in challenging work.
    In Project Based Learning (PBL), students go through an extended process of inquiry in response to a complex question, problem, or challenge. While driven by student interest, voice, and choice, rigorous projects are carefully planned, managed, and assessed to help students learn key academic content, practice 21st Century Skills (such as collaboration, communication & critical thinking), and create high-quality, authentic products & presentations.
    Rather than earning grades and credits, students show learning by demonstrating their mastery of competencies. This means a student’s path to mastery will be personal, unique, varied and challenging. 

    The Mukilteo Big Picture Program will be authorized by the Washington State Board of Education (SBE) to graduate students based on mastery of competencies rather than credits, and the competencies are aligned with Common Core State Standards and admissions expectations of selective baccalaureate colleges in Washington state and nationally.  
    Who is an advisor? It’s a teacher, but one who works to advise learning, rather than directly instructing in a discipline (like math, for example). Any certificated teacher who desires to follow the model is eligible to be a learning advisor. The advisory period is a central part of the Big Picture community. Students stay in the same advisory all four years, and create a place where everyone is welcome to create, share, struggle and achieve. A student’s advisor evaluates learning, assists in goal setting and project planning, and monitors a student’s internship. Advisory peers provide each other with encouragement, accountability, partnership and support as each individual challenges themselves to grow as thinkers, creators and contributors. Each advisory shapes its own culture, but some common practices are present, including:

    • Community building
    • Project planning and organization
    • Learning support
    • Academic and community pursuits