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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33 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

    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.

      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!

    • Will says:

      Wow! After reading the above rambling essay that contains absolutely no focus, I am not too sure about the results of the New Tech program in regard to college writing capabilities!

  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

  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.

  8. facebooker says:

    The New Tech program is a complete joke. I am involved in it, I work with one and I promise to you, the learning outcome is so low.

    For instance, they have this thing called “critical friends”, where you sit there and basically judge each other’s work using phrases such as “I wonder” before you ask about their work and then say “I like” about whatever it is you like. It is a bunch of nonsense and everyone spends about a good 1-2 hours “wondering” and “liking” crap and then nothing gets done. They want you to teach standards through these projects where you have rubrics for almost everything, planning documents, planning calendars, an agenda, then you have to create activities on ECHO and so on and so on. The workload is insane and when a student is finished with a project and you asked them what they learned, they can barely tell you.

    We started using the New Tech model and it just totally killed our scores on the state exam. In fact, we are into our 3rd year now and all the new people (teachers aka facilitators) are realizing what a joke it is. How is a student supposed to learn Chemistry from other students who have never been exposed to Chemistry? It’s like: Ok students (they call them “scholars” pfft), here is a bunch of Chemistry equipment, acids, bases and tools, conduct experiments! Goodluck! Sound ridiculous? That’s the New Tech way! Teachers (like me) are supposed to kick our feet back and go around “wondering” and “liking” what they do and anytime someone asks a question, you are supposed to basically tell them, this is “Agency” which means taking control of your own work (stupid I know) and then walk off, all the while being useless.

    We have administrators who are involved in this project based bull and they are of absolutely NO HELP EVER. What they put us through is basically handing us a bunch of work, problems and issues that we have no experience with and told to FIGURE IT OUT. This is EXACTLY what New Tech does to the students. Of course when you watch the videos, you see students laughing and looking all engaged but go into a classroom where the New Tech model is being employed. Half the time it is kids fighting, yelling, arguing, crying and complaining about each other and the work and the other 45% of the time are the students sitting around staring at a computer like zombies. The remaining 5% is just miscellaneous. Then the administrators wonder why the scores are so low, they refuse to see the truth and everyone keeps holding Manor as some shining beacon of light because Barack Obama publicly praised them. Look at their scores. Very good?! No. They also have a student to teacher ratio of 16 or 18 to 1. Most other schools are up into the late 20’s and early 30’s to 1.

    Avoid this model. It is now November and our administrators are seeing that something is wrong, mind you, this is the 3rd year now and they are finally starting to realize the joke that is New Tech. It is a money making scheme. Talk to one of the people who work there, it’ll feel like you are talking to a car salesman.

  9. JohnG says:

    Sounds familiar Facebooker! Our district was unwilling to even compromise and our super in a meeting with several parents that had a petition with hundreds of sigs blew it off and then when a parent pointed out that if kids begin leaving that the district would lose several thousand dollars per kid. He was clearly peeved and stated that he believed it to be more like 5,000. The discussion went a bit further and he actually said “I dont know what to tell you. If you dont like it take your $5,000 and go somewhere else”!!!!!! That from the mouth of the super!

    The entire freshman year for our son was a complete waste of his time and I mean complete. We made the tough decision to remove him and send him elsewhere just before school resumed for his soph year. Because of my outspokeness against the school and NewTech our 10 year old daughter was thrown off of the 5th grade basketball team after I was told 2 days prior to essentially shut my mouth or else.

    That made our decision simple regarding our remaining daughters in the district, who we were most likely going to leave there in hopes of NewTech being abolished prior to their entry into high school. We removed both for safety reasons. If someone is going to toy with a 10 year old child over the opinions (that ended up being FACT) of their parent we decided our children were no longer safe in that environment even though K-8 I considered to be excellent!

    As it turns out it is almost like all of this, in spite of the incredible duress, was meant to be. All 3 are extremely happy and thriving as if they never missed a beat. As you can imagine we were not alone in leaving. They have since ceased their affiliation with NewTech and according to rumors it was due to pressure from an upcoming high school class’ parents that finally ended up being the straw that broke their back.

    They have never and will never admit their mistake and have cost their district quite a few dollars via kids leaving that wont return. They have also lost a considerable amount of trust due to the behavior of some during the “experiment”.

    Parents, school board members, etc….if someone suggests this garbage and your kid has any semblance of intelligence FIGHT LIKE HELL TO KEEP YOUR KIDS OUT OF IT or remove them before they get into it.

    My one regret is not figuring out what was really going on quicker, not the stories we were fed, and pull our son sooner.

  10. Kathy says:

    Thank you Facebooker for speaking out. It is difficult for educators in the program to do so because of intimidation and retaliation. I shouldn’t speak for you, but that is what our teachers privately told us and I have networked with parents and teachers from several states who say the same thing. That there will be repercussions if they say anything negative about, NT. There seems to be a common theme here: teachers, students and parents, having their thoughts and opinions censored, or pay the price… The question is why? Why is there so much defensiveness from NT to the point of shutting down dialogue, well dialogue not orchestrated by them that is. This whole thing sounds impossible. This is the United States of America, for heavens sake. Education has always gone through changes, some proved good, some not. What is different and scary in this situation, is the secrecy and absolute control that for some reason has been handed over to NT. Our school was good. Run by good people. Everything changed when NT came in. It honestly changed the school and the people in it. I can happily report, however, as soon as it was kicked out the door, everything went back like the nightmare never happened. Advice to those fighting to rid their schools of NT, be loud, don’t go away, go to every school board meeting, call administrators, get petitions, talk about potential affect on future levys, let them know you are not going away and not going to tolerate it. You can’t stop. And, as last resort, change school systems. Families here did it. In the long run it is a very small price to pay for the education and future of your children.

  11. Syd says:

    I’m a teacher at a New Tech high school. I’ve been teaching for 15 years, and this is the first school where staff actually looked forward to collaborating and improving instruction as a team for the sake of students’ learning. We’re what’s called a public “school of choice,” which means any family within our district can choose to enroll. We’re not a charter. We have families who go out of their way to get their kids to our school– some have to take the city bus and there are a few I know that have one-hour + commutes, and yet, they all chose our school because of the project-based learning model and the emphasis on specific skills (collaboration, inquiry, communication, and agency).

    This is our fifth year, and whenever there’s been a staff opening, we’ve had a mob of applicants trying to get in because the learning culture is very positive. Everyone who visits for the first time says the same thing: you feel the difference the moment you walk into the school. We never have fights or bad attitudes from students and yet, they are both culturally and economically diverse.

    No school is perfect, but New Tech gives three years of coaching and professional development to their schools and then schools are on their own to continuously improve and build on what they started. I guess we’re doing well and maybe other schools are struggling, but it could have a LOT to do with the fact that some districts have opted to go with the New Tech model without buy-in from teachers. If that’s the case, I can see how any kind of new model that’s forced on staff will not work if they’re feeling like they’re being made to do it. When I found out about the New Tech school opening in my city, I jumped at the chance to do project-based learning because I’m a risk-taker and I already had a foundation in using the model. It’s not easy, but it’s rewarding.

    Some posted about how teachers are “facilitators”. I challenge anyone to visit a New Tech school and have teachers go over what they do before they even launch a project. It takes a tremendous amount of work, research, set-up, community-partnering, collaboration, and- yes, “critical friends”. Critical friends is simply constructive feedback. It’s what happens in the world outside of high school that impacts the quality of our work, and that applies to both staff and students. We try to model what we teach and we do, in fact, use it. When done well, staff and students benefit from it tremendously. I can see, though, how it would be perceived by those who’ve never seen it done correctly or have never been the recipient of that kind of feedback.

    As for advanced students having to carry struggling students, that is another aspect of New Tech that is beneficial for students to learn about. It’s not okay for that to happen, and if it is, then collaboration is not being taught explicitly, as it should be. Either that, or parents are just not getting the concept of what project-based learning is. At New Tech schools, leadership and agency are developed through collaborative problem solving, and it’s not an easy thing to teach, but our staff gets better at it every year through our own collaborations around instruction of…collaboration! LOL

    I really do love teaching at a New Tech school. There are so many more of them now, so I can understand if some are not as far along as others. I can also understand parent push-back because that’s part of every New Tech school’s evolution.

    Best of luck to all of you. I do hope the parents who’ve responded here do find a good fit for your children. And for those of you teaching at New Tech schools who are struggling with the model, I don’t believe using the PBL model should be forced on a teaching staff. We already have so much to deal with as teachers, and learning a new model (especially one as robust and multi-layered as PBL) is overwhelming. For me personally, it’s been incredibly rewarding, and I’m not a New Tech toadie. I’m suspicious of anything that initially had corporate money thrown at it, for sure. But at my school, we no longer are have connections to New Tech other than the use of its online resources, and it’s making a difference in the lives of hundreds of students and their families AND it’s free for all, being it’s a public school.

    • Syd DiChiara says:

      In response to a question someone asked about why are there no schools mentioned here…I wrote the comment above and my school is Nex+Gen Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

  12. JohnG says:

    It reads as if the NT people did a fantastic job of indoctrinating you. Your reply read as if it were a script or a blurb on their site, where they tout themselves with no facts or proof other than the misinformation they spew. That’s ok though, there are even teachers that support the ignorance of Common Core………..

  13. I taught at a New Tech school for five years. It was the best five years of my 25 year teaching career. My students came to class every day ready to work and learn. There were teachers who did not buy into the concept, and they eventually left the school. The teachers who replaced them were young and willing to learn to implement the type of learning advocated by New Tech. Our school had the highest test scores in the school district, which was in a high poverty area with an unemployment rate of nearly 25% at one point. We had a competency rate of 85% overall. That means that 85% of our students passed the state tests at grade-level or above. Our school ended up being a victim of its own success. It was disbanded because there were some in the community who did not want the school, including teachers who taught in the non-New Tech schools. There were student protests, petitions, etc., to no avail. When the last group of students graduated from the reconstituted comprehensive high school, they wanted the name of the New Tech school where they had started out as freshmen on their diplomas. That didn’t happen, but these kids felt that they were still a part of the school, even when it didn’t exist any more. That is telling.

    • teachersci says:

      Excuse me, but what school was that and what percentage of your school was below the poverty line? New Tech does not have data on any of their high needs schools yet. The only one they presented at their conference was barely Title I — and it really was the only one, and New Tech was a school-within-a-school, so self-selecting a group of students. Please tell me the name of the school or we are all unlikely to believe it exists.

  14. Kle says:

    Disbanded after five years?? Obviously a lot more to this story than JUST a “few” in the community not liking it.

  15. teachersci says:

    I am a teacher in a New Tech school and I have never been anywhere where dissent was treated as a threat. What the other teachers say about the oppressive environment where no one is allowed to say anything negative is true. The parents are extremely confused by New Tech as well, but have very little say in what goes on. We are a very high needs school and there is no PTA for parent input. The teachers are bullied, the New Tech facilitator is . . . um, terrible. . . the training materials for this “tech” program frequently don’t work, and the Echo network has not been redesigned since the 90’s. It is the worst education software I have ever worked with – and I am a tech-savvy former college professor. I love project-based learning — but what New Tech does is sell jargon and crappy software. Someone is getting rich off all of this, and our student scores have plummeted.

  16. WebDeveloper says:

    Several years ago my child attended a “project-based learning” charter school with a very similar model to New Tech. But the similarities ended at the door. The place was a nightmare of inefficiency and hypocrisy. The leadership, admin, and teachers couldn’t get their act together and so they placed the burden on the kids (this was an elementary school!). It was horrible and we deeply regret it. Now my daughter attends a New Tech high school and it’s like a dream come true. Our local traditional high school is the same old rote, churning out barely-literate drones who largely won’t qualify for college entry. Our New Tech is slick and organized, with highly motivated teachers and students.

    My point is that schools aren’t like Starbucks. Just because one is great in this town doesn’t mean that it’s going to be great in that town. No question that If parents are getting together in groups and complaining then there is a problem with the school, period. Even if that problem is communicating to parents. But just because one school has issues doesn’t mean that the whole program needs to be trashed.

    BTW, “teachersci” is flat out lying. The Echo Network is absolutely excellent and is far superior to the completely lame “Aeries SIS” system that the rest of our district uses. If there’s a problem with it at that school, then maybe there’s a problem w/ their IT staff or teacher training.

  17. Sydnee R says:

    I am currently a senior in high school, specifically a new tech school in California. I am apart of my school’s first graduating class, and I have no regrets about my education. Yes there are some flaws with the idea of students teaching themselves (spanish and math are a joke) but other areas thrive. It’s more of an issue with the way the specific teacher taught, I think. The culture at my school is amazing. I love all my teachers, my peers, and the community we’ve worked with. I am applying to UCs and CSUs right now, and I feel confident with my abilities and am ready to take on college.
    I’m so sad to read other people’s comments about how terrible their new tech experience was. Such experiences seem so out of my world, and I wish your children could have had the experience I did. My teachers love their jobs, and are enthusiastic to learn. The students who stay at the school only have positive words to say about it. If they find that they don’t enjoy PBL, they transfer over to the regular high school right next to us. I’ve found a family in the small class i’m graduating with, and I am sure I will come back to visit the school once i’ve graduated. I’ll miss it too much not to

  18. Eric Autenreith says:

    Why are there no school names and places in any of these comments, save the HNHS, in reference to the initial article and the Sacramento school mentioned in the glowing letter from Nick Thorwaldson? Here in Fayette County, WV, we are considering New Tech programming. It would be nice to check the accuracy of the positive and negative comments.

    • sgeders says:

      HNHS is a school within a school housing both New Tech and traditional schedules. New Tech is in its 5th year at HNHS which has given New Tech an adequate amount of time to prove its claims that “Our students achieve high levels of educational attainment and thrive academically. They become lifelong learners who are ready for college and careers.” Within the next month I will be posting a data comparison of the two educational approach at the HNHS campus.

      • andrea says:

        My nephew will be an incoming freshman to HNHS in 2016-2017. He is contemplating the New Tech program. Do you have the data comparison of the two approaches available?

      • Ateacher says:

        Thank you! I am a teach in the HNHS Viking New Tech school. I love the New Tech model the way it is implemented at HNHS. All students get the appropriate attention toon they need because the class sizes are smaller in this small learning community. Students seem happier, form a strong academic community, and achieve to the best of their abilities. I am sorry that is not the case for all Nee Tech schools. Anyone is welcome to visit Viking New Tech and see for themselves!

  19. I am a parent with a child Whom my wife and I carefully considered putting in a new tech network elementary school. In my opinion, and this is just one parent’s personal opinion, I believe it seems to operate as a cult-like way of evaluation by all . The reson why I say this is because I have watched YouTube videos of conventions and the definitions of words such as “rigor” and testing” seem to not match the dictionary terms in my opinion. So, I as a parent went to state test results for checking the mastery of math and language arts for the children in different grade levels. The data showed aat one school absolutely abominable scores in both L
    Language arts and math too. The scores were in the bottom 10 percent of the state, probably the bottom 5 percent in math, matH is a key area to view with regard to if children are achieving at grade level standards in using what I believe is an experimental approach in teaching group learning math classes.
    .let the data transparently show each stakeholder if a new tech network school is teaching math in ways that are equal to non group taught project based learning schools. Again check the state tests and check each grade level for math.

    I think fades may be inflated at both new tech network schools and non new tech network schools, so, I say as a parent who cares, check the state tests and go by them to know if any school teaches well.

    In my opinion, NTN is not a good place for me to send my child.

    The above are my parent opinions.

    Look up the word “cult” in the dictionary while you are at it.

    Data ( test results) must be the backbone of any decision as to if a child is learning properly, and what is a test.

    A test in my opinion is the old fashioned testing done alone by an individual on basic concepts which include multiple choice questions, essay questions and not GROUP GRADES.

    Sure project based learning is good. Just let it be say 30% of a report card grade after a semester of work, but weight tests, individual tests as 50% of the grade and let 20% be projects ( mom or dad does, ha ha).

    Now go watch some you tube new tech network TONY ROBBNS ESQ or esk kind of exuberant videos that say …WOW! THEY WERE ENGAGED AND THEY ARE ALL GOIN TO COLLEGE…

    Only problem is equating going to college with staying there long enough to get a degree…

    Wait, next maybe there will be a group learning graded NEW TECH NETWORK PUBLIC COLLEGE…with scholarships too…

    Concerned Parent

  20. Shalini says:

    We moved from Atlanta,GA to El Paso,Texas this summer and my daughter Will join Franklin high school and we registered her for new tech program. Change of state is already overwhelming and now we are concerned if this is the right way to go for my daughter as we haven’t heard of any reviews about this program. I will greatly appreciate if you can share some information on the same. Thank you.

  21. Maryśka Stolarczyk says:

    Nice post! In my opinion, children should know much more about newest technologies. I found out how important it is after I’ve started my own company. I’ve decided to work with microsoft partner uk. I saw all of the solutions offered by them and I realized that I have no idea about IT.

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