USC Hybrid High Success Story

High-quality feedback helped USC Hybrid High seniors tackle their challenging, year-long Senior Thesis Project, graduate with honors, and demonstrate their mastery of college-level research and writing skills.

Fast Facts

Location. College preparatory public charter high school in downtown Los Angeles. Part of the ednovate network.

Population. 225 students enrolled in grades 9-12; 79% qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

Technology. Google Drive allowed for fast, easy, and secure file-sharing of student work and supporting documents, while also facilitating secure Graider/student engagement.

Scope. Graiders served as “remote thesis advisors”, providing fast, detailed and ongoing feedback on student writing throughout the spring semester, which was supplemented by in-person coaching from faculty advisors.

Inaugural graduating class of USC Hybrid High School. June 2016.

Inaugural graduating class of USC Hybrid High School. June 2016.

“My Graider was an important person in guiding my writing and making sure it was as clear, correct, and professional in order for me to succeed. Their feedback was important to me and my work.”
— Angela P., Class of 2017

The Challenge

Keeping students engaged and on track to succeed; delivering fast, detailed feedback on student writing without overwhelming faculty advisors

For USC Hybrid High seniors, the crowning culmination of their high school career is the Senior Thesis Project. Now in its second year, the Senior Thesis is “an exploration of purpose, through the lens of USC Hybrid High School’s mission of creating a positive-multigenerational change.” This ambitious, year-long effort challenges students to produce a reflective and proactive piece of writing, developing a thesis that explores how they will use their college experiences to ignite change in their communities and the world.

The Senior Thesis project was created during the 2015-16 school year as an opportunity for graduating seniors to demonstrate their mastery of the skills central to college success: research, close reading, analytical writing, problem-solving, and presentation. The inaugural year was a success. The small group of students involved in the pilot produced carefully-researched, well-written essays supported by continued feedback and one-on-one coaching from faculty advisors. As they looked to grow the project, USC Hybrid High leaders quickly realized that faculty advisors would be unable to provide this critical, detailed support to a larger group of students. Delivering timely, robust feedback on chapter submissions and multiple drafts was difficult but manageable for 1-2 students; mentoring 12 to 15 would be impossible. Given the complexity, length, and rigor of the project, however, high-quality feedback was indispensable. Students needed timely, ongoing support to ensure they were meeting interim submission deadlines, effectively revising their work, and producing their highest-quality research and writing.

The Solution

Graiders served as remote thesis advisors, delivering fast, robust feedback and guidance -  a win-win for faculty and students

The thesis leadership team had heard about The Graide Network as a feedback tool for teachers. They quickly realized that this model of online, on-demand feedback support could be a solution for the Senior Thesis. Students would receive the timely, ongoing, personalized, and actionable feedback they needed to succeed, and faculty advisors could focus their time and energy on in-person mentorship and advice on the research process. 

The Graide Network is an online platform connecting K-12 schools with remote teaching assistants to provide critical, on-demand grading and feedback support. “Graiders” are highly qualified, vetted undergraduate and graduate students from colleges across the country who are aspiring educators. They are assigned to evaluate student work based on subject and grade level expertise, and the Network is able to effectively support all K-12 subjects and grade levels to deliver fast, accurate scoring for even the most complex assessments and essays. 

Implementation and Scope of Work

Ongoing support to get seniors over the finish line with exceptional work!

Five top Graiders were chosen to serve as remote advisors. Each Graider was paired with a group of students for whom they would be responsible to guide and coach for the duration of the project. Over the course of the spring semester, USC seniors submitted five sections (each ~5-8 pages in length) and a rough draft of their final thesis (~25-40 pages) via Google Drive for review by their Graider. 

Graiders delivered feedback in two ways. First, they provided inline annotations focusing on development of ideas, structure and organization, language, and conventions, as well as helping ensure that students were meeting all rubric components and project requirements for each section. Graiders also wrote a personal letter to the student for each submission, detailing high-level areas of strength and areas for growth, as well as providing the student with 4-5 actionable steps and focus areas for future revision. Students were given time in class and with faculty advisors to reflect on their feedback reports and ask follow-up questions of their Graider.

“Without my Graiders, my writing would not be at the point that it is now. They provide detailed feedback that is useful, and they also gave me another perspective on my writing.”
— Kiana R., Class of 2017

The Results

Student engagement soared. To kickoff the Senior Thesis Project, Graiders wrote short biographies, introducing themselves and sharing their own personal and academic backgrounds. By collaborating over four months, students developed strong relationships with their Graiders and came to deeply trust and value their support.

Twenty-nine seniors embarked on the Senior Thesis Project in January, and we are thrilled to report that 28 submitted final papers. Having the opportunity to receive feedback from their Graider two to three times a month helped students stay on track and complete each chapter assignment with high fidelity. A 30-page research and writing project is a tremendous effort for any student, so the added support of a remote thesis advisor helped student stay motivated and engaged.

“You inspired me and your feedback really helped me. I loved it!”
— Kacie S., Class of 2017 (to her Graider, Sumaiya)

The extra support was a game-changer for students.  Student feedback on the experience of working with a  Graider was overwhelming positive! How did the support of a Graider impact them?

“The value that the Graide Network provided was phenomenal… My Graider provided feedback and guidance on how to sound more sophisticated and passionate in my writing. I am so grateful they stuck with me [through the process]!”
— Christopher F., Class of 2017

The Graide Network was a game-changer for faculty members, too.

The biggest takeaways from USC Hybrid High faculty (synthesized):

  • Tremendous increase in the amount of feedback delivered to students - “We couldn’t have done this on our own!”

  • Significantly higher turn in and completion rates. The partnership structure kept students on track and motivated.

  • Final products were sharper, longer (40 vs 21 pages), and more professional (formatting, MLA, works cited)

  • Students had significantly more time for revision and feedback implementation

  • In-person thesis advisor meetings were more productive thanks to Graider feedback

  • Operationally easy to implement
“This was 100% different from last year! Thanks to The Graide Network we had a much higher turn-in rate. Students didn’t want to miss out on the feedback. Plus, students really benefitted from being pushed by multiple people on multiple aspects of their research and writing.”
— Ms. DeRogatis, 12th Grade ELA teacher and Senior Thesis Coordinator
This was AWESOME—students were able to hear comments not just from me but also from an outside source. Our comments tended to align really well, so it meant that the students were hearing the same thing from multiple people. It reinforced my feedback and offered them a different perspective.
— Ms. Batizy, 10th Grade ELA Teacher