Los Angeles Area Da Vinci Schools to Present First Student Exhibitions on Dec. 16

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High School Students Served Well by Real-World Learning, Technology-Rich Environment, and Close Relationships with Mentors, Faculty and Peers

In a challenge to the semester and year-end ritual of sitting for final exams, students at Da Vinci Schools (http://www.davincischools.org), two new charter high schools located on the eastern border of El Segundo, will instead get on their feet, walk around, point, argue, and perhaps even dance or perform in front of a very public audience.

“What they’re doing is called an ‘Exhibition’, and it’s the way in which our students show what they know and what they have learned,” said Nicole Tempel, Principal of Da Vinci Schools.

The student Exhibitions will take place on December 16, 2009, at 6 p.m. at Da Vinci Schools, 13500 Aviation Boulevard, in front of an audience of students, parents, faculty, subject matter experts, mentors, community members, and industry professionals. Most audience members will be observers; others will serve as jurists who will help score the Exhibitions. Some industry leaders who will be participating as judges are: Chet Pipkin, CEO and founder of Belkin International, Inc.; Donald Brann, El Segundo city councilmember and former superintendent of the Wiseburn School District; Gary Wayland of Wayland & Vukadinovich, LLP; Art Lofton, Corporate Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Northrop Grumman; and Steve McAdam, Academic Chair of the Product Design Department at Otis College of Art and Design. Pipkin, Brann, Wayland and Lofton also serve on Da Vinci Schools’ Board of Trustees.

“Our objective is to show that Exhibitions are a more effective and comprehensive way of assessing student performance than standardized paper-and-pencil tests,” Tempel said. “They show students, parents, colleges, and employers how well students can think and solve real-world problems.”

Exhibitions are just one way Da Vinci Schools measure success. Students still take quizzes and tests, the year-end state-mandated standardized tests known as California Standards Tests (CSTs), and the SAT. What Da Vinci Schools don’t do is engage in the persistent drill-and-test model of instruction that is prevalent in many of today’s traditional public schools.

Using oral presentations and digital portfolios, students will demonstrate their knowledge and mastery of the state curriculum through projects such as My Legacy, My Destiny; The City Project; and Roman Warfare through the Ages. Da Vinci Science and Da Vinci Design - known as Da Vinci Schools - stress an innovative, project-based “learn by doing” curriculum that is real-world relevant, rich in technology, fun and engaging. Subjects such as math, language arts, science, fine arts, social studies and technology are integrated into each project. Students also are mentored by industry professionals to ensure they graduate with the real-world skills and knowledge employers and colleges now demand in the 21st century.

“This is serious business,” Tempel said about the Exhibitions. “The judges are not there to be entertained. Instead, with the help of special scoring tools, they are there to determine whether the student has researched deeply, studied widely, mastered the material, applied critical thinking skills, and presented their data competently.” If students do not meet expectations, they may not advance to the next class or grade or graduation, or they may be asked to repeat the Exhibition after further support is given.

The Exhibitions are part of National Exhibition Month, a campaign sponsored by the Coalition of Essential Schools (http://www.essentialschools.org), a national non-profit organization working to create and sustain personalized, equitable, and intellectually challenging schools. Da Vinci Schools will be joining more than 100 schools across 25 states in opening its doors to parents and community members so students can showcase their work and achievements, Tempel said.

The Da Vinci Exhibitions meet accountability standards and are aligned with California’s learning outcomes. Some states, including Nebraska and Rhode Island, allow schools to use Exhibitions and other forms of performance assessment as an integral part of their state accountability systems.

About Da Vinci Schools
Da Vinci Science and Da Vinci Design officially opened their doors in August 2009 to 448 9th and 10th grade students from 38 different zip codes and 96 different area schools. Da Vinci Schools offer a rigorous college-prep curriculum, project-based learning, internships and mentoring opportunities with local industry, early college classes on-site, and a culture where every student is known, seen and valued. For more information, call (310) 725-5800 or visit Da Vinci Schools online at http://www.davincischools.org.

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