The past few years have brought a steady stream of disruptions to America’s schools along with a growing clamor to examine what school is–or more importantly–what school should be in all of its dimensions. These calls to re-imagine schools, through the learner and educator experience, point to the power of an effective school model in leading transformation efforts.
For 25 years we have helped local communities create hundreds of successful schools by partnering with districts in more than 30 states. Each partnership shares a common vision: to create schools that provide a supportive and inclusive culture, meaningful and equitable instruction, purposeful assessment, and college and career ready outcomes for all students.
Each of the more than 200 schools that are members of New Tech Network benefit from our decades of experience driven by research-based best practices. The deep repository of resources and powerful professional development NTN offers serve to empower classroom educators, school administrators, and instructional coaches to work together to create relevant and rigorous learning for each student. Our network of tens of thousands of educators also provides essential peer-to-peer learning opportunities to address common challenges and share their learning.
Through several multi-year grants we are developing new resources and methodologies to support schools. Now entering our sixth year of learning alongside districts we are focused on strengthening district capacity to lead and sustain transformation and leverage network effects to expand and sustain deeper learning. We are in the third year of learning from continuous improvement activities to ensure students are on-track for high school graduation and postsecondary success. By leveraging data on student and educator experiences, we recently released a major revision of the NTN School Success Rubric, a developmental guide that allows elementary and secondary schools to reflect on their implementation of the New Tech Network Model and to move towards a more meaningful, equitable, and inclusive learning environment for their students.
This impact report is dedicated to all of the passionate educators who are engaged in a school transformation journey. Too often in the debate about America’s schools, the quintessential questions of how teachers teach and how students learn are lost. Our work together makes deeper learning possible for each student, paving the way for students to grapple with challenging curricula, gain critical skills and use their voices in ways that prepare them for life beyond school.
New Tech Network (NTN) is a national nonprofit dedicated to systemic and equitable change in education. We center schools as the units of change, and teachers and school leaders as the agents of that change. These educators model a participatory change process for their students, demonstrating the benefits of shared leadership and collective action. Partnering with districts and working closely with their leadership teams make change scalable and sustainable. After 25 years of change making, we have learned what works and can adapt quickly.
New Tech Network schools — now over 200 strong — are committed to college and career ready outcomes, supportive and inclusive culture, meaningful and equitable instruction, and purposeful assessment. Like the strands of a rope, when woven together, they strengthen the whole. Teachers and school leaders operate in an environment built on a vision and collective action, where educators are the architects of the learning environment. The student experience is tied directly to deeper learning outcomes. Students gain skills and use their voice in ways that prepare them for life beyond school. Project-based learning in NTN schools allows students to engage with their learning in creative, culturally relevant ways, experience it in context, and share their learning with peers.
Teachers, administrators, and district leaders adopt this school model because it produces critical thinkers and problem-solvers, vital to the long-term health and wellbeing of our communities. Students embrace it because they feel a sense of belonging. They are challenged to learn in relevant, meaningful ways that shape the way they interact with the world.
When change is collectively held rather than siloed, and all stakeholders are engaged rather than alienated, schools and districts build their own capacity to sustain innovation and continuously improve.
New Tech Network’s whole school approach provides teachers, administrators, and district leaders with complementary yet distinct roles in implementation, and relies on shared leadership. NTN’s experienced support staff do much more than train stakeholders. They support professional educators to lead, adapt to student needs and strengths, and amplify those strengths while adjusting what is needed to address challenges.
The NTN Mission
New Tech Network supports change agents at the school and district levels by shifting the way educational change happens. We transform individual schools and support vibrant district learning communities by:
New Tech Network’s decades of experience guiding schools through comprehensive transformation is guided by these four Focus Areas. NTN developed the focus areas 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 our school development process.
Prepare each student for postsecondary success with the knowledge, skills, and mindsets to be ready for college and career: Collaboration, Knowledge and Thinking, Written Communication, Oral Communication, and Agency.
Center the instructional approach on authentic, complex thinking, and problem-solving. Based on our experience, high-quality, relevant project-based learning (PBL) is the best way for students to experience deep, contextual, and shared learning and acquire and demonstrate proficiency in college and career ready outcomes.
Cultivate shared, school-wide understandings of equitable, purposeful assessment and grading practices that inform teacher instruction, emphasize individual student growth, and demonstrate progress towards college and career readiness. These include performance assessments for students to demonstrate their learning in age-appropriate ways.
Foster a school-wide culture of belonging, care, community, and growth for adults and students. This type of culture helps ensure that students and teachers alike have ownership over the learning experience and school environment.
As educators, we know that effective change is inherent to our work. Addressing staff turnover, responding to state education initiatives, and implementing best instructional practices while creating enabling learning environments can feel overwhelming. Oftentimes in school systems, change processes are born as the vision of one dynamic leader who tries to tackle a major, but siloed component of schooling (academic achievement, professional development for staff, parent involvement and more). While well-intentioned, we’ve seen many such initiatives fail due to the change process being in conflict with other district initiatives or being tied to the specific success of that leader. In our more-than 25 years of school transformation, we have identified effective and sustainable ways to approach school redesign with a focus on equitable practices, improved outcomes, and lasting change.
We believe when transformation is adopted by a school, its stakeholders and its community, everyone is more engaged, and schools build their own unique capacity to sustain the innovation and continuously improve. Our vision of school transformation reflects a comprehensive, culturally relevant, and equitable approach to educational systemic change — involving culture, professional development, data analysis, instruction, and policies. We call this vision a Whole School Approach.
We define a whole school approach as the kind of transformation needed to ensure a learning environment where every component of the student experience is aligned to this work. Students experience this innovative way of learning in their classrooms, with their interactions with teachers, peers and school leadership, how they’re assessed in their learning, and college and career opportunities. The NTN Model aligns all components of schooling, empowers the entire system to lead a change process, invites the community in, and adapts to the needs and strengths of the learning community.
Whole school transformation for each and every student isn’t just our belief – research suggests9 that effective schools are those that embrace change at a comprehensive level, rather than the adoption of programs that focus on addressing single components of a school system.
Research also identifies10 that whole school change efforts are more likely to be effective than “tacked-on” or otherwise targeted programs. Strategies designed to affect all elements of a student’s learning typically result in higher levels of interactive instruction.
The decision to engage in systemic change can be challenging, and the work of school transformation is often hard. The work can be messy, non-linear and requires commitment and collaboration from all stakeholders. That’s why at NTN, we approach school transformation the same way we approach classroom instruction: as a developmental process. School and district leaders engage in the same types of inquiry, reflection, data analysis and collaboration during the school transformation process as their students will in their project-based learning classrooms. By its very design, our approach to school transformation enables schools and districts to grow, adapt and sustain over time. We do this by centering our model around four Focus Areas: college and career ready outcomes, supportive and inclusive culture, meaningful and equitable instruction, and purposeful assessment.
The NTN redesign process begins with comprehensive planning resources and the NTN Model Commitments, which are designed to prepare schools for a successful implementation of the NTN Model. The NTN Model Commitments lay the foundation for the work of school transformation, and our planning resources ensure the district or school is ready to take the necessary steps towards powerful project-based learning, building adult culture, and aligning the district’s vision to learning outcomes.
Once a school and district are ready to make that commitment, it adopts the NTN School Success Rubric, a developmental rubric organized around the four Focus Areas. The NTN School Success Rubric is intended to help both elementary and secondary school teachers and leaders reflect on their implementation of the NTN Model and move towards a more meaningful, equitable, and inclusive learning environment for all students.
As schools progress in their practice around the elements of the NTN School Success Rubric, the focus shifts from implementation to sustainability — and that’s our goal. At NTN, we work to help school systems build and maintain their own capacity to create the equitable, deeper learning environments that are right for their community. We understand how staff turnover, funding shifts, enrollment changes and other challenges affect a school system, and we’ve designed our model to support schools to adapt to their local context so they can sustain and grow to help students ultimately thrive. We join fellow educators in a shared vision to work together to advance deeper learning approaches so that students participate in joyful, meaningful, and relevant educational experiences — leading to improved learning outcomes and college and career readiness for each and every student.
Partnering with New Tech Network enables school leaders and educators to create high-quality, equitable, supportive, and meaningful learning opportunities for each and every student. Benefits include access to:
|New Tech Network Graduation Rate||Main Campus Graduation Rate|
“Sometimes I have a tunnel vision and it expands that. I started to like group work. I always liked to take leadership roles and now I can take on other roles. I try to fill in what qualities are needed in the groups.”
Student, NTN Partner School
“In a business project, I was with my friend and we had a really good hook, and it worked on the first try but not in the second. We had to learn how to adapt by crunching the numbers [data gathered in the project].”
Student, NTN Partner School
“If you are going to be successful [as a teacher], you have to give the students the responsibility to learn, a productive struggle. I’m going to give away my power in the room and let the students learn. Leadership models the same thing.”
Administrator, NTN Partner School
Total number of schools reflects Network schools and College Access Network schools
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/).
Rickles, Zeiser, Yang, O’Day, & Garet, 2019
Stocks, Odell, and Culclasure, 2019
Gordon and Bergeron, 2018; Stocks, Odell, and Culclasure, 2019
Bergeron, 2019; Gordon and Bergeron, 2018; Lynch et al., 2018; Bergeron, 2019; Bergeron and Bogdan, 2019a; Stocks, Odell, and Culclasure, 2019; Hinnant- Crawford, 2020
Bergeron and Bogdan, 2019b; Bergeron, et al, 2019
Bergeron, Boesche-Taylor, Gehrke, Dugan-Knight, Kamdar, Vorse Wilka, and Gittens, 2019
Hopkins, Stringfield, Harris, Stoll & Mackay, 2014; Slavin, 2007; Teddlie & Reynolds, 2000
Teddlie & Stringfield, 2007
Peters-Burton. & Holincheck, 2022
Special thanks to: