What Effect Will New Tech Have on My GPA?

At the heart of the New Tech model is a concept known as Project Based Learning (PBL) and collaborative learning, in which “students work in teams to acquire and apply knowledge and skills to solve problems.”  Since a portion of a student’s grade depends upon the effort or lack of effort of team members, there are additional challenges in finishing at the top of one’s class. According to one principal of an Indiana New Tech campus, “A” students are now often receiving “Cs.” A second principal stated that when students work together in groups and one student does not pull their weight, it will bring the others’ grades down. Another principal reported that high-achieving students prefer not to share their knowledge as much because they do not want to share their grades.

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4 Responses to What Effect Will New Tech Have on My GPA?

  1. Peggy Bailey says:

    I was thrilled to see your letter to the editor, in the LaGrange Standard! I have a son, now a senior, and a daughter, a sophomore at Lakeland. My son isn’t being touched, they have let his class slide out of New Tech because of lack of time left with them. My daughter’s class…they are the beginning, the guinea pigs I feel. My daughter is an “A” student, and she was in tears last year. She hated the New Tech class!

    The idea of New Tech is grand, but it has to be implemented correctly. Lakeland has a very bad habit of jumping in with both feet without knowing how shallow or deep the water is below! These kids are terrified about their GPA’s. My daughter was grouped with students that could have cared less, most of the time. She put in so much time and work just so that she would make sure the grade was an “A”. They were suppose to be allowed to fire students that were not holding up their part…but that did not happen.

    All of the research, that I have found, students usually have a choice whether to go the New Tech route, or follow a standard curriculum, is that correct? The students, at Lakeland, do not have a choice. I should rephrase that, your choice would be to attend a different school, and some are making that move. It doesn’t help that most of the teachers are not behind the program either.

    Dennis Kruse told my son, this summer, at Boys State, that he believed New Tech to be a passing fad.

    We have an open house at the end of this month. I will be attending to see the advances for this year.

    I would love to see this program work, I really would…but you have to have your students and teachers behind it, and right now they are not! It terrifies me as to where this will leave the class of 2013, 2014, and 2015.

    My daughter is going to major in musical theatre and vocal performance….Lakeland doesn’t prepare her adequately for her interests regardless…they do not even offer a Music Theory class. She feels she can get through this and still be ok academically (something that I will watch very closely). If the table were turned, and it was my son, he would be attending Westview this year.

    I want to thank you for your time in compiling all of this research.

    Peggy Bailey
    LaGrange Indiana

    • sgeders says:

      I share your concerns. Regardless how innovative New Tech may sound, “team-based collaborative learning” defies human nature. Your daughter’s story reminds me of the universal message in the story about the Little Red Hen who planted the wheat, tended the wheat, harvested the wheat and baked the bread. Others expected to share in the fruits of her labor without contributing. At the end of the story, the Little Red Hen had the opportunity to explain to the others that they had not earned the right to share in her profit. Group projects in which there are little or no consequences for those who do not contribute encourage an entitlement mentality. It is not good for those who work harder, but it is even worse for those students who learn to become dependent.
      New Tech Foundation states that you can fire someone in your group who isn’t contributing. This may work in a business setting, but how does that work in a public school setting? Do you place the student in another group? Do you send the student to another high school across town, or to a different district or county? I am inclined to agree with you in that it doesn’t happen.
      The only time a student has a choice whether or not to participate in New Tech is when it is a school within a school, such as at Huntington North High School, where the goal is to have nearly one-quarter of the student body in New Tech and the three-quarters in the traditional setting. However, even in this setting, New Tech students do not have as much freedom to choose as wide a variety of classes offered to the rest of the student body.
      At least some of the full conversion New Tech high schools such as Lakeland High School in which the entire student body is enrolled in New Tech, do not offer formal studies in the arts, and the arts are studied if it is part of an assigned project. One of the New Tech schools in Indiana offers a class entitled Rock Band as the only music class in the curriculum, while another reports the number of students participating in band and choir has decreased.
      I empathize with your daughter. If her present high school does not offer her the opportunities to prepare her academically or for her major in college, you may want to consider alternatives that will meet her needs. She only gets one chance at a high school education. Keep in mind, according to the New Tech Executive Summary, (which can be accessed from the “Is New Tech for You?” tab at the top of this page), “New Tech is designed to serve students who have struggled with average or below average academic achievement, yet have high potential and positive attitudes.”
      Thank you for your heartfelt letter and good luck.

      • Anita R. says:

        I left my lengthy story on the home page. My story is like yours. Unfortunately my school got paid a lot of money to sign a 3yr contract to continue with this type of so called education. I no longer trust our school officials and I’m just devastated that they care so little about the our kids future!! Good luck! remember we have choices, the schools also get paid for every child that is in the system. The more kids that move to another district the more money they lose. Maybe they need a wake-up call.

  2. Darren says:

    In response to Anita R. and Peggy Baily.
    Shelby Ohio has recently joined the New Tech network as it opened a brand new high school this fall (2013). They started the New Tech program last year (2012), while the new school was under construction. Years prior, Shelby needed a new middle school constructed out of the flood zone the existing school resided in. They had access to Federal money to assist the building but could not raise their part of the money needed, as they were unsuccessful in passing two new consecutive tax levies. It seemed to come down to the deadline of the Federal grant expiring when they announced plans to build a brand new high school, instead of the middle school that was desperately needed. I wondered at that time why the decision to build a new high school, when the existing one was relatively new and in excellent condition. It is perfectly clear to me now why the decision was made. New Tech! A generous “grant” for a brand new “high school” with a three year commitment to implement this type of education. Epiphany!
    New Tech Network, a non profit organization partially founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and partners with Oracle. Does anyone else recognize these names and suspect the entire New Tech Network is a way for these multi -billion dollar corporations to increase their profits under the guise of “educating our children”!?
    “New Tech is designed to serve students who have struggled with average or below average academic achievement, yet have high potential and positive attitudes.” I know parents of straight A students who have transferred their children to non New Tech schools to protect their student’s grades and GPA’s. Hard work deserves appropriate positive reinforcement. I will not have my children, both A students, give it their all and receive a substandard grade. How fair is that!?
    I experienced many project based learning classes during graduate school and vividly remember their excessive time consumption and, at times, extremely frustrating nature. I was fortunate to have this learning technique in otherwise unimportant, elective courses. I can not imagine the stress of learning new and complex information while struggling with non interested or disruptive group members! I will not subject my children to that torture.

    Darren Long, MSN
    Shelby, Ohio

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