In many schools, project-based learning happens in isolated cases: in certain teachers’ classrooms here and there, or in the contexts of specific subjects. But for students to benefit from project-based learning, ideally it’s part of a school’s infrastructure — a way to approach learning holistically.
For one quickly growing network of schools, project-based learning is the crux of the entire ecosystem. New Tech Network, which was founded 15 years ago, is taking its school-wide project-based model to national scale. The organization, which offers a paid program for schools to use its model, began with a flagship school in Napa and has grown to 120 schools in 18 states, most of which are public schools.
The network has not only grown in size, but also in notoriety. President Obama visited Manor New Tech High School in Texas last week, as part of an effort to promote an education agenda focused on producing graduates that can compete in today’s global economy.
The nod from the president comes at a time when New Tech is attempting to position itself as a successful model to follow. But rather than relying on test scores and such quantifiable numbers to prove its value, New Tech’s own 2013 annual report frames success by focusing on deeper learning that can’t be measured by standardized test scores and their college readiness. Yet it’s that lack of emphasis on test scores, an all-consuming worry for many districts, that makes it more difficult for the organization to pin point numbers to tell its story.
Here are a few of the statistics New Tech has gathered from their schools: students graduate at a rate six percent higher than the national average and enroll in college nine percent more than the average. They also persist in four-year universities at a 17 percent higher rate and 46 percent higher rate when it comes to two year colleges. Perhaps most importantly, they claim that Continue reading