Introduction

Huntington North High School will be introducing the New Tech curriculum for the 2010-2011 school year. What is New Tech and is it for you? According to the New Tech Network’s web site, “Our goal is to enable students to gain the knowledge and 21st century skills they need to succeed in life, college and the careers of tomorrow. The New Tech model provides an instructional approach centered on project-based learning, a culture that empowers students and teachers, and integrated technology in the classroom. Our hands-on, multi-year approach gives schools structure and support to ensure long-term success.” No one can argue the benefits of attaining the knowledge and skills to succeed in life, college and the careers of tomorrow. Does the New Tech curriculum live up to these statements?

The information contained in this web site is compiled from the New Tech Foundation, several New Tech high schools throughout the United States, Huntington County Community School Corporation (HCCSC), and the Departments of Education of Indiana, Texas, North Carolina, and California. Additionally, interviews were conducted with principals from New Tech high schools throughout Indiana. (Click on the titles in the menu above to access the information.)

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12 Responses to Introduction

  1. Lee Fleming says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions and for doing research about whether or not New Tech is a good fit for your child. I find these kinds of forums very healthy as they raise dialogue about what education should look like and allow people to express their opinions. I also think it is great that your community believes in choice in education.

    I hope you don’t mind if I add a few notes here to help insure accurate
    information:

    1) Adam Lowe is not an employee or representative of the New Tech Network though he is quoted as one in your section on ‘Does NT attract industries…?”

    2) Manor New Tech has a very different school approach than the Huntington NT so I can see why some of their student generated videos (from their video production class) might seem exclusively about computers. However, their test score results for math, English, and science are below compared to the high school where students would normally attend down the road indicate that they take academics seriously as well:

    Math English Science

    Manor High School 31% 76% 33%
    Manor New Tech 65% 88% 81%

    3) The numbers shown on your attendance graphs reflect the whole school populations, not just the NT students. For example, Arsenal Technical is a campus of 3500 students. Decatur Central is a campus of 1630. Rochester and N. Daviess both have a slow transition into New Tech so they only had 1 or 2 years of NT students so the increases wouldn’t be seen until this year for Rochester and next year for N. Daviess. The NT schools do take and report separate attendance and find higher attendance rates than their comparison populations. (Arsenal New Tech is 97% for example.)

    4) There are several elements to the New Tech model and one key factor is continually improving. The document that you quoted from 2005 might have been very accurate for 5 years ago–now we find that students from all categories are finding the school a good fit.

    5) In considering schools that have implemented NT and have a more similar population to your community, you might want to research and compare Coppell NT in Texas, Tech Valley High in Albany, NY, or Bloomington and Columbus here in Indiana.

    I highly encourage you to make a visit in person to a New Tech in your area, perhaps Wayne New Tech, at Fort Wayne, to see for yourself if the hype from Manor videos matches what you see.

    • sgeders says:

      Thank you for your comments. I agree that dialogue is helpful and healthy.

      1) You are correct that Adam Lowe is not directly employed by the New Tech Network. However, he is employed by the Center of Excellence in Leadership Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis. CELL partners with New Tech and acts as “an intermediary between New Tech Network and the schools in Indiana.” I have since clarified his employment status on the page entitled, “Will New Tech Attract Industries to our Community?”

      2) While the test scores from Manor New Tech are impressive, they are not representative of the New Tech Schools across the country. (For example, comparison scores at CamTech, Hillside, and Southeast Raleigh in North Carolina to name a few). New Tech Network’s own analysis of results from each New Tech school demonstrates that students of New Tech underperform comparison schools in algebra II, geometry, and chemistry. Reading achievement for New Tech students drops from 89% in 9th grade to 63% in the upper grades when reading skills should be improving. http://www.newtechnetwork.org/newtech_results

      3) The numbers shown on the attendance graphs are taken from the Indiana Department of Education’s web site. It is unfortunate Indiana does not break down the attendance rates. Assuming every other aspect of the school curriculum and student population has not changed since the introduction of New Tech, and the New Tech student population demonstrates increased attendance rates, there should be some indication of improvement in the whole school attendance. However, Decatur Central’s attendance rates have actually decreased and Arsenal, Rochester, and North Daviess are virtually unchanged. New Tech has had no appreciable effect on the attendance rates for the North Carolina schools cited above.

      4) The document you refer to is the Executive Summary of Napa New Tech High School prepared by International Center for Leadership in Education. At a public presentation of New Tech on December 10, 2008 in the Huntington North High School auditorium, I had the opportunity to the ask Mr. Howard Mahoney, the principal of Napa New Tech, about several issues contained in this document including the low number of juniors returning for their senior year. He responded, “That is an accurate description and it is an accurate challenge that I face as principal of Napa New Tech.” As late as October 2009, Napa was still recruiting new senior students for the school year that began in August. Mr. Mahoney addressed all the concerns I raised and did not find them to be inaccurate. To hear the entire Q&A, go to the “How Does New Tech Affect Graduation Rates?” page and click on the link entitled “12-10-08 Questions of New Tech.”

      5) I do intend to visit Viking New Tech sometime this year. Ultimately, results will tell the story.

  2. Vicki Sieberns says:

    My son is a New Tech student at HNHS, he is ADHD. This way of teaching seems to be working for him, so far. I think the concept behind New Tech is great. Team work, research, and computer skills are invaluable. My concern is that he has had little or no homework. I realize it is early in the year, but I have a nephew who is in 10th grade and he has already had a report due. What happens to these kids after four years of new tech when they go to college. Are there any studies that show wheather these kids survive their first year out of New Tech? Will they be able to write a 10 page research paper in college? Are we setting them up to fail at college because we want to increase our attendance in high school? Reading this article has brought another concern to my attention, reading on line, is it the same as a physical book? One would think it is, but the decrease in reading scores is alarming! Seems like there are alot of “bugs” to work out and I hope my child doesn’t “suffer” from being in this “experimental” way of teaching! There have been good changes in teaching technics over the years, but it seems like they get rid of the ones that work or change in the middle of a childs schooling then the child is just totally confused! I hope this program isn’t one of those things they decide to change 2 years into it because the kids are behind and have to play catch up to be able to graduate. Would really like more info on this program but it doesn’t sound like there is much. Has there been anyone that has graduated and went on to college? I would like to hear from them.

  3. Nick Thorwaldson says:

    I am a former Sacramento New Technology student. I graduated with the school’s first class of 2006. I just recently graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz with a degree in American Studies with honors in the major, and a minor in Politics. I commend you all for your discussion for it is a vital one that not enough people engage in. I really respect the concerns listed in the last comment because I believe all parents should want to discover a school or teaching style that will help their children succeed. I also respect the creator of the blog’s desire to make sure parents are making educated decisions about their child’s high school education.

    The comment “Seems like there are alot of ‘bugs’ to work out and I hope my child doesn’t “suffer” from being in this “experimental” way of teaching!” especially caught my eye. When I attended SNTHS, the school in Napa was the only other New Technology High School. Our school was still under construction, projects were being used for the first time and tested, most of the teachers were young and new, and the school’s population was very small. I certainly felt like I was involved in an educational experiment yet my overall experience was the opposite of suffering. Unfortunately there are more students than you realize that are under prepared for college level writing, many of which attended large traditional high schools. I recently spoke to a UCSC Alumni who worked as a grader for an upper division college course who said that she was appalled at the level of the student’s writing. I was definitely not an exception. I had a difficult time adjusting to college level writing but I had an advantage that others who did not attend a New Tech School did not. The one on one attention I was provided at SNTHS helped me understand what specific troubles in writing I was having. The teachers had the ability to work close with me to help pinpoint my strengths and weaknesses. So instead of realizing I had a problem with writing I realized I had a problem with summarizing too much and not analyzing and inserting my own opinion. More importantly, New Tech provided me with the confidence and skills necessary to seek help and support once attending college. Many students entering college, even those entering UCs, are not prepared to write 10 page college level research papers but as a New Tech student I felt that I was more prepared to seek how to become a better writer and not fall between the cracks.

    I started attending SNTHS my sophomore year so I have experience attending a larger traditional high school as well. There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to attending both and I would not say that New Tech is right for everyone. However it is so important to provide alternative ways of learning for the students that it could greatly benefit. Though I may not have been as prepared as students at traditional high schools in mathematics, or test taking the presentations, project based learning, and exposure to technology has given me the confidence, motivation, and skills to overcome those disadvantages and much more. If I did not attend SNTHS I would have not been involved in student government, I would have not attended School District Board meetings to share my opinion about education and the problems of today’s youth, I would have not been a facilitator at the Youth Voice Town hall getting students to talk about their frustrations and challenges, I would have not entered a speech and debate tournament, I would not have the same fiery passion for education and public policy, and I certainly would not have been valedictorian of my class. Going to New Tech has helped me think better of myself and to take risks and accomplish goals I would have not had the confidence to even attempt.

    New Tech is teaching students how to think critically, solve problems, and live in this every increasingly complex society. It is preparing students for job interviews, business meetings, and the ability to work with others. It is fostering leadership in students who never believed they could be a leader. It is teaching students how to be punctual, professional, and polite. In one class we had a guest speaker who discussed the importance of staying out of debt and understanding credit. In one of our projects we had to look for apartments, and create a hypothetical budget. New Tech is helping students emerge out of their shells and is preparing them for life after education.

    Many of my fellow alumni are returning to their parent’s home because they cannot find jobs in this harsh economic climate. The skills and confidence I gained at SNTHS helped me acquire a job with the school’s telephone outreach program eventually becoming a supervisor. Now, because of my ability to network, encourage, lead, and work with others I have been hired as an administrative assistant for UCSC University Relations. I have aspirations of going to grad school to get a master’s in public policy, and to create a meaningful career in public service. With out the New Tech teachers that challenged, encouraged, and listened to me I would not be where I am today.

    So, when considering New Technology High school think about your child’s individual needs and personality. Its small size, emphasis on technology, presentations, project based learning may not be the right learning environment for your student. But it was for me and it was for many students who I believe feel a lot less lost in life because of their high-school experience.

    • Vicki Sieberns says:

      Thank you so much for all of your comments on this subject. I guess there is no real way to prepare your kids for everything the world will throw at them, even if they attend a regular high school. Knowing how much New Tech helped you with your confidence, was incouraging to hear. We have a very large high school, it would be very easy to fall through the cracks. I will give this program a chance and hope my son enjoys it as much as you did. Thank you for your encouraging comments I feel alittle better about the program. I am very happy that you have a job you enjoy and are striving for more. Best wishes to you in all that you wish to accomplish in your career!

  4. Anita R. says:

    Wow, I really don’t where to start after reading the most recent posts. After reading about all the great accomplishments resulting from this program I can’t help but think I must be imagining this nightmare I find myself in. My family feels as though our lives have been turned upside down. My son who has worked so hard to be an “A” student over the years, worked and cared about his grades, now throws his hands up and says, ” I don’t care anymore! “.
    So lets start from the beginning…We live in Shelby, Ohio. A small town where people respected and supported our school system and its leadership. We (our freshman & Sophomore class) found out about the “New Tech” program during orientation! this means one day before school started. We were shown videos about how great the program is (showing kids giving great reviews) and how its “group based” to help our children prepare for the future, college etc. We tried to keep an open mind, however, was skeptical about how it would affect my child’s grades. After all, the freshman year is when their grades become very important in building their GPA for college admissions etc. Within a few weeks we realized this was not the program that was introduced to us. My child would come home from school at 3pm and sit in front of the laptop until 11-12pm. This became a nightly ritual. We would try to go out as a family on a Sat evening, however, my son informed us that his project was due that night by midnight, therefore we could not go. Finally, my husband and I started to get involved to find out exactly what was going on, why he had hours of homework, what projects they had him doing. There were times he would be up stressed and almost in tears because “he felt he had to learn how to do a particular problem so that HE could tech his group the next day. You see, what happens is the teachers now become “facilitators ” NOT TEACHERS! The kids are handed projects and told to figure out how to do the problem as a group. The kids then get online and have to figure out how to do algebra/ science etc from sites online instead of the teacher explaining it to them. Our kids teach themselves or depend on another student to help them. What really frustrates us is that our “A” student would be placed in groups with C, D, F students. You see…. that way the “A” student will care enough to make the other kids get involved because they would be graded as a group. If the kids who don’t care about their grades don’t do their work then the other kids have to make up for that child’s work to get the job done, you know, so they can still get a good grade! Now what I find interesting is that you can get a child kicked out of your group but not until several write-ups and then finally “fired”. It sure sounds like a union built into our kids education and new way of thinking… the things that make you say huum! With funding by our Government?
    Over the years I used to feel guilty because my child never asked for help. His father and I never had to worry about his work ethic or his grades. This program and the way it is being facilitated has changed him into someone that I do not recognize. I feel helpless as a parent and have spoke to other parents that feel the same, So much, that we have had a few New Tech meeting with very heated discussions via concerned parents about this program and tactics that are being used. As a matter or fact lets talk about that!. My child has been in this program for 3months. So far..1) the kids had to write a paper about ONLY the positive aspects about the program, even if they hated it, and it had to be positive. The kids were then instructed to give that paper to another kid in the school who is not in the program. 2) Three of the “facilitators” separated the kids into two groups (25 kids each). Each group was supposed to give there opinion of the program and express concerns. The first day the first group was frustrated, had nothing good to say about the program, one child told the facilitators that he has been in this science class for five weeks and have not learned anything about science. Only one child spoke up in favor of the program. He said, I quote, ” I love this program, I haven’t done squat and I’m getting a “C”. This program has pitted one child against another because one or the another in each group is not doing their work. So they have to speak out against that child, or shut up and work harder to get the grade. The first day the facilitators said nothing, just listened and took notes. The second day, when the second group thought they could give their opinion, the facilitators made them feel stupid (asking them if they knew a theory from the past year or so, if they couldn’t remember that theory, they were told the old way of learning must not be working) they used the first day to build ammunition against the kids the second day, knowing what they would say..then made them feel stupid so no one would say anything else bad about the program. 3) One facilitator at lunch time took a camcorder and put it in my sons face and insisted that he say something positive about New Tech. When my son refused, the facilitator sat there with the camera on him , and said she wasn’t leaving until he did. This past week, we found out that they brought in teachers from another school. They pulled certain kids out and they were told to say only positive aspects about it while speaking to these school representatives. I’M sorry, but I feel there is something bigger going on with this program. Why would they not work out the bugs before pushing this onto others. Why are they so determined to lie and distort the truth. The government paid our school 3/4 of a million dollars to accept this program. We were rated “excellent” ?? I feel our children’s education and chances to get into a good college was bought out at our children’s expense. The school keeps saying that everybody is doing this, but we only found 8 other schools accepting this program out of hundreds of districts. Only one being a high school, the others being” academy’s” and all were low rated schools (academic emergencies etc). I have had many sleepless nights over this and personally I question the last person’s comments about this program. There is intimidation going on with this program and the facilitators. I am curious to know why? and I saw that a New Tech representative was quick to get in and kindly point out where we are wrong. All I know is, ” what we are going through”. People be warned! Do not let this come to your town. I must say, something I do agree with is that New Tech makes you “get involved ” like never before. We (and others) are looking at other school districts to put our child in. That may sound easy for some, but think of the cost in gas to drive to another town two times a day. Trying to be there before and after school while holding down a full time job. Uprooting your child away from their friends. Its just terrible what they have done. I do know one thing, even if we move to another district, I will continue to look into this program and spread the word until they “get the bugs worked out”. Please tell me its just a nightmare!

    • Anita Ream says:

      I need to clarify that I, Anita Ream from Shelby, Ohio, did not write this comment. I am a former teacher in Shelby, so I may be associated with this issue. I am not aware that there is another Anita R. in Shelby, Ohio, which is a very small town, but apparently there is.

  5. Kathy says:

    Hello Anita R. A group of us recently came upon your post. It is such a perfect description of what so many of us have gone through this year at SHS. Would you be willing to repost this on the Shelby Whippets New Tech facebook page? It is such a typical experience and may make others not feel so alone. If you feel comfortable, please email me. Thank you very much! Kathy emerkat@aol.com

  6. John G says:

    Oh it’s no nightmare. It’s a reality. NEWTECH is clearly NOT for everyone. I will even boldly state that it’s for hardly anyone! Anita R. Please reply. We have much to chat about with us both having children involved in SCS’s socialist experiment. I cannot believe the replies stopped with your bombshell of a post

    • Purple Dinosaur says:

      If you care about your students more than you cared about money, you would get rid of this program. I agree completely with anita r’s post. It describes exactly what is happening, but yet, you choose to stand by and do nothing. OPEN YOUR EYES!!!!!! The entire english III class admitted that they didn’t feel like they learned anything last year, even your own daughter. Its too bad nobody looks out for the students best interests anymore. Shelby used to be an awesome school, and now im ashamed to admit I go there. I DONT learn (you can argue as much as you want, but it won’t make a difference). Denying the obvious would just be stupid. I’m going to ask my parents to let me transfer schools next week. I’m tired of my academic needs being put after the almighty dollar signs. You dont care about us anymore, so why would I want to stay? My apologizes if you consider this disrespectful, but I feel like this is the truth, as do many others. If this is the way to get you to pay attention to us, so be it. I’m sorry, but I want what is best for everyone, and this isnt it. If you cared about your students, you would realize this too.

  7. Latoya Brown says:

    My child has just started to attend a New Tech school in American Canyon, CA a school in the Napa Valley unified school district. This is the schools first year as a New Tech school and it has been a nightmare. They don’t provide and laptops for the children(you must bring your own device) and on top of that the staff is confused when it comes to Echo(the sight they upload the agendas and projects to). The school has several new teachers who are beyond clueless. I didn’t see any grades for my child for 3wks and school is now in it’s 4th week. This is a disaster and I hope this program is shut down. This school was not prepared to be a New Tech school.

    • Kathy says:

      Our school just finished its first long year of New Tech. Administrators will say it is great. Students and parents will not. Main goal of program is pull everyone to the middle. HIgh achievers pulled down,low achievers pulled up. No one is to get ahead of anybody else. Teachers don’t teach, they facilitate. Students consult each other to figure things out.. And if the class is going faster than NT wants them to, they slow it down. Terrible program. Fight like heck to get rid of it. We are trying.

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