A Path Forward
We are often asked our opinion about the best ways to improve U.S. education. It’s complicated. There are no fast, easy and inexpensive ways to undertake meaningful innovation that will endure. And yet, to successfully meet the needs of all students (academically, socially and emotionally) requires a deep understanding of the systems at work for schools and districts. For more than two decades our holistic approach to change through the New Tech school model has been evidence-based. Buoyed by research supporting the efficacy of our methodology, we are energized, even bullish for the future of local education. We have successfully supported hundreds of schools and districts, and each partnership is based on bringing a systems approach to a systems problem that is led by a locally set vision.
We find ourselves at an extraordinary juncture in K-12 education. We hope that the worst of the pandemic disruptions are indeed behind us, which would signal an opening for mental and emotional space to re-examine how schools function with a singular goal: What do we need to do differently so that every student graduates prepared for the college and career pursuits of their choosing?
The New Tech Network (NTN) mission is to support the creation of schools that ensure all students regularly engage in authentic complex thinking and problem solving in a learning environment that is safe, inclusive and emotionally supportive. Our work has also shown that better outcomes for students endure when classroom educators, school heads, and district leaders have trust and confidence in themselves anchored by a clear shared understanding of the “why” behind all aspects of a school model.
More than ever we appreciate the opportunity to partner with you to engage in meaningful change that is equity-based and student-centered.
President and CEO, New Tech Network
New Tech Network (NTN) is committed to transforming teaching and learning so every child - regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, ability, or income status - has access to a meaningful, equitable, and inclusive learning environment focused on preparation for college and career, allowing all students to thrive.
New Tech Network pioneers whole school transformation through high-quality project-based learning (PBL) and a deep focus on school and classroom culture. Our coaches work directly with teachers and school leadership teams to create learning environments that help all students graduate prepared for the demands of the future. School culture at NTN schools is oriented around belonging and social emotional well-being. Instruction focuses on PBL that is learner-centered and grounded in culturally sustaining practices.
When NTN partner schools shift culture and instruction as part of a comprehensive approach to education, those schools consistently experience positive outcomes for students – particularly students historically situated farthest from opportunity. To support them on their journey, educators in NTN schools have access to a robust set of resources, ongoing coaching and support from experienced coaches, and a collaborative network of innovative education professionals.
|Total NTN Students||Total Elementary School||Total Middle School||Total High School||NTN School Range|
|American Indian/Alaska Native||1%||1%||<1%||<1%||0-8%|
|Multi-Racial, Other, PNTS||4%||6%||4%||4%||0-22%|
|English Language Learners^||14%||24%||16%||11%||0-79%|
|Free and Reduced Lunch^||55%||66%||59%||52%||0-100%|
* Demographic categories are aligned with National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reporting to enable comparisons.
^ Weighted average percent in Network schools rather than total percent of NTN students.
New Tech Network’s decades of experience guiding schools through comprehensive transformation led to the Four Design Pillars. NTN developed these four categories to align the work of whole school transformation and to help school communities understand the overarching goals that impact the work through all phases of the school development process.
NTN schools focus on student outcomes that prepare all students for postsecondary success. The five New Tech Learning Outcomes include: collaboration, knowledge and thinking, written communication, oral communication, and agency.
School and classroom culture at NTN schools is oriented around developing an inclusive and supportive learning community that is asset-based, affirms student identities, and focused on social-emotional well-being and belonging.
Instruction in NTN schools focuses on implementing high-quality PBL that supports deeper learning for each student. PBL that supports a more equitable learning environment includes using learner-centered practices, adopting a culturally sustaining approach, supporting students’ literacy development, and integrating assessment practices focused on growth on the learning outcomes.
NTN schools use technology to support collaboration and student-centered learning. Echo, NTN’s learning management system, supports project-based learning and features an innovative gradebook that aligns to the deeper learning skills students will need in college and career. Digital tools, cultivated and aligned content, and a community of shared learning are integrated to create a powerful platform to support student and adult learning.
New Tech Network believes that sustainable, high-impact practices for supporting student development in deeper learning outcomes are only possible through the alignment of principles and practices across the entire school community, not just in a few isolated classrooms or only by shifting methods of instruction. To this end, all NTN schools adopt the four design pillars that act as the foundation of our school model.
Adult learning for classroom educators and school leaders is an integral component of NTN’s implementation support with the goal of improving learning experiences for students. Research supports Professional Development as a key driver of successful school level change and development2. The Research and Measurement team assesses NTN professional development experiences to ensure consistent high quality learning that translates into implementation and changes in practice that result in a different student learning experience. Year 2 data from ongoing evaluation efforts of NTN professional development services provide evidence that the NTN model supports and sustains adult shifts over time3 . Learning objectives are met during the planning phase and sustained through the implementation events documenting pivotal shifts between professional learning to implementation to change in practice 4. The findings in the table below capture educator responses related to key professional development learning objectives. The significantly strong ratings around scaffolding are noteworthy as this is one of the more challenging techniques central to effective PBL. Scaffolding is the process of supporting students as they learn knowledge and develop new skills5.
Additionally, the Research and Measurement team supports school implementation efforts by providing valid and reliable school-based student and educator culture surveys6 uniquely aligned to NTN’s model to empower school leadership teams with actionable data to improve the learning environment and school experiences of each and all students. The research-based NTN School Culture Surveys are tools to help schools deliver on the promise of an affirming, inclusive, and emotionally supportive environment. Interactive reports enable schools to track progress over time and understand experiences of different groups of students and educators across multiple topics designed specifically for NTN schools including school connectedness, teaching and learning, positive relationships, school processes and practices, and PBL.
The Echo® platform houses all digital content for New Tech Network partner schools. The learning management platform hosts class agendas and resources for student projects and assessment, robust teacher communities, professional development, parent access to their student’s work, NTN-provided resources, and more. Echo’s many capabilities are accessible in a user-friendly interface that parents, students, and teachers navigate daily – easily finding tools and resources that meet their needs. Echo is unique because it is the only learning management platform designed to assist and assess students based on multiple learning outcomes. Engaging teaching and robust feedback systems need a sophisticated but accessible platform to be effective.
Educators can tap into NTN’s two decades of experience through the NTN Help and Learning Center. The Center contains hundreds of easily searchable resources and an “Ask a Coach” feature that puts them in touch with support whenever they need it. These critical resources support school leaders and teachers that partner with New Tech Network to transform teaching and learning in their schools.
NTN believes the best way to cultivate a culture of empowerment, discovery, and innovation is through a network of engaged, passionate individuals who share a student-centered vision for schools. That’s why we’ve created the NTN Slack Community — an online platform that shortens the distance between members of New Tech Network, making connecting and communicating with one another easy. Within the NTN Slack Community, members can pose questions, invite collaboration, find other educators who teach the same content or grade levels and easily search for resources.
A high-level overview of a year-long sequence of projects.
An overview of each project listed on the Year-at-a-Glance that includes an estimated timeline, power learning outcomes and standards, project scenario, and key assessments.
The Practices Card Deck is a compilation of key cultural, instructional, and reflective practices that teachers can implement in their classrooms to support student learning.
This robust template provides the granular details that help teachers design and execute a project. The toolkit is broken down into five categories: begin with the end in mind, design the project scenario, create the path, plan the assessment, and assess before launch.
Each project has multiple teacher and student-facing materials that are accessed through NTN’s learning management system, ECHO. The Echo Project Folder is where students complete activities, collaborate with others, receive feedback, and monitor their progress.
School Design Studio is a digital hub that accelerates your redesign journey through proven resources, courses, seminars, workshops, and customized support. With New Tech Network guiding you and your team, you have the tools and processes you need to re-imagine your school.
1 School-level information on student enrollment, demographics, and graduation rates is sourced from the schools and publicly available sources such as the U.S. Department of Education databases. College outcomes are sourced from National Student Clearinghouse (NSC). Comparison data is sourced from NSC (https://nscresearchcenter.org tag/persistence/) and NCES (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/).
2 Day, C. (1999). Professional Development and Reflective Practice: purposes, processes and partnerships. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 7:2, 221-23
3 Bergeron, L. (2019, November). Leveraging evaluation data to support change management across schools and districts. Paper presentation at the annual conference of the American Evaluation Associations, Minneapolis, MN.
4 Bergeron, L., Boesche-Taylor, B., & Bogdan, C. (2021, April). Quality assurance and network activation: a network approach to professional development evaluation. Paper presentation at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association, virtual.
5 Wood, D., Bruner, J., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Child Psychiatry, 17, 89−100; Walqui, A., & Van Lier, L. (2010). Scaffolding the Academic Success of Adolescent English Language Learners: A Pedagogy of Promise. WestEd. 730 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107-1242.
6 Bergeron, L., Bennie, B., Boesche-Taylor, B., & Gehrke, A. (2018, April). Student Culture Survey Validation: Creating a Tool to Support Culture Transformation and Equitable Learning Experiences. Presentation at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association, New York, NY.
Special thanks to:
Reynoldsburg City Schools
Jefferson County Public Schools
Leander Indpendent School District
Winton Woods North Campus, Design by SHP © 2021 JH Photography
Dan Vermillion, Vermillion Photo