Phoenix High School will operate under the following conditions:
- The school will be autonomous, issuing its own diploma.
- It will be different in design from the comprehensive high schools.
- It will prepare its students for college, work, and citizenship.
- It will be small (first year, only 40 students, growing to 150 students over a 4 year period).
- It will comply with national, state, and district regulations - either directly or through a waiver.
- Once established, its ongoing funding patterns will be similar to the other high schools.
- Student work created in the school will exhibit a level of rigor at least as high as the comprehensive schools.
- It will be performance-centered rather than seat-time based. Students will progress through their schooling and be graduated by the public demonstration of mastery.
- It will be student-centered, personalized, and individualized.
- It will be subject to ongoing, formal evaluation.
Key Differences Student-Directed Project-Based Education
Guided by advisors and provided with the necessary tools for planning and learning, students determine their “coursework” in the form of projects. Students decide what questions to explore, what texts and other resources (including community mentors) to use, how to incorporate and meet state standards. Students lead project proposal meetings in which individual learning plans are created and signed by student, parent, and advisor. They reflect on their progress throughout their projects, maintain a record of activities and time spent, and share final projects publicly for real audiences. Public performance assessments increase rigor and encourage program integrity. Credits are awarded upon attaining clearly defined, integrated learning outcomes, and not in response to seat time. This model was developed by EdVisions. An EdVisions school, River City Academy now exists in West Valley (Spokane). This system of earning and awarding credits is working with Washington State and district graduation requirements, Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs), the required Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), and compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Highly Qualified Teachers Requirements.