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Featured Research and Annotated Bibliography

Featured Research

Evidence of the Positive Impact of Interdisciplinary Curriculum and Integrated Instruction in New Tech Network

Adult Capacity Building and Change Management Across Schools and Districts: Evidence from the Quality Assurance Evaluation (2021)

Evidence of New Tech Network Impact: Summary Report (2021) 

New Tech Network Comparative Analysis (2020)

Bells Elementary School’s Journey of Change: A Beacon of Light on the I-95 (2020)

Adult Learning in the SCLN (2020)

Middle School Engagement (2020)

QAI Year One / Adult Capacity Building (2020)

Deeper Learning Networks: Taking Student-Centered Learning and Equity to Scale (2019)

College and Career Readiness

Perez, W.Y., Knox, J. & Harris-Wilkerson, E. (2021). Expanding the Equity Conversation for Pathways to College: A Literature Review of College Access and College Readiness Research 2014-2021. Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools.

College access and readiness for marginalized students, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), is vital. An increasing number of jobs require postsecondary education, but some BIPOC students, particularly Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students, are not graduating at the same rates as other students (Carnevale, 2016; NCES 2019). Additionally, a college education is connected to greater health and increased civic engagement (Ma et al., 2016). We explore the factors that impact college access and readiness for BIPOC and low income populations. Specifically, the review focuses on research studies from 2014-2021 that focused on answering two questions:

1) What are the systemic, structural, and programmatic barriers to college access and

college readiness for BIPOC students?

2) What classroom and school cultures, and district practices, promote widespread college access and readiness for BIPOC students?

We center equity by including college access and readiness studies with BIPOC and marginalized youth; critical, anti-racist, asset-based perspectives; and non-academic indicators. Where there was a lack of literature, we discuss future directions for this work.

Four sections comprise the literature review.

Read more here.

Hinnant-Crawford, B. & Virtue, E. (2019). New Tech Network Comparative Analysis: Non-Academic Outcomes in Three States.  Cullowhee, NC: Western Carolina University. 

Hinnant-Crawford, B. (2020). New Tech Network Comparative Analysis: Academic Outcomes in Texas Addendum.  Cullowhee, NC: Western Carolina University. 

This report summarizes the primary findings from Phase I and Phase II of the comparative analysis, that used secondary data analysis with OLS Regression and multi-level modeling in Phase I and a concurrent triangulation mixed method design in Phase II to estimate the impact of New Tech Network on academic and non-academic student outcomes. 

Read more here.

Sample size: Phase I exam data included 9 NTN schools (53 comparisons) sourced from the Texas Schools Project (Texas Education Agency).  Phase II site visit and survey data were collected from nine schools (5 NTN/4 non-NTN) and 253 students (NTN =149/Non-NTN 105). 

Methods: Mixed-methods

Year: 2020

Location: Texas, North Carolina, Michigan

Findings:  New Tech students report engaging in project-based learning (PBL) and having technology integrated through the curriculum more than their Non-New Tech peers, and that distinction was statistically significant. Furthermore, project-based learning was a positive and significant predictor of problem solving, active and engaged citizenship, self-regulation, and grit.  Statistically significant survey results demonstrate that New Tech Students are more engaged in: Innovative technology use in their classrooms, Investigations of real-world problems, Civic behaviors and skills, Communicating to external audiences, Peer feedback and collaboration, and Data analysis.  Texas data were analyzed for the 2016, 2017, and 2018 cohorts, controlling for ethnicity, disability, income, giftedness, English language learner status, and the overall poverty levels within the school building, New Tech students scored significantly higher on English II exams. 

Bergeron, L. (2020, February). Implementing deeper learning in Title 1 STEM focused high schools – an inclusive approach to preparation for college and career. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Eastern Education Research Association Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL.

Project-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered instructional approach in which students develop content understanding and other skills (collaboration, organization, etc.) through an authentic investigation into a complex problem. STEM and PBL are often implemented in tandem due to their complementary pedagogy and content (see Jamali, S. M., Md Zain, A. N., Samsudin, & Ebrahim, 2017; Edmunds, Arshavsky, Glennie, Charles, & Rice, 2017). An inclusive STEM model is designed to serve all students regardless of prior academic achievement and admission is through a non-competitive process as opposed to many STEM models that are implemented as magnet schools targeting students who meet selection criteria. The STEM high schools in this study are all Title 1 eligible and operate as inclusive STEM schools, meaning the admission process is not competitive and the student demographics mirror the district demographics.

Sample size: 11 inclusive Title 1 STEM high schools implementing NTN PBL

Methods: Exploratory mixed methods case study of 11 inclusive STEM PBL high schools utilized National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) data, average daily attendance (ADA) reported by the high schools, and a qualitative PBL implementation rubric.

Year: 2019

Location: US public schools

Findings: The inclusive STEM PBL Title 1 schools weighted average immediate college enrollment was 58%. The average national enrollment rate for high poverty high schools is 54% (NSC, 2019). The national ADA for all public highs schools in the US is 91% (NCES, 2018) and the weighted ADA for the inclusive STEM Title 1 schools was 94%. Analysis of implementation criteria across the 11 school sites is organized into three themes demonstrating strong implementation across technology, instructional environment, and staff support.

Keywords: inclusive STEM, college enrollment, average daily attendance

Bergeron, L. (2019, February). Reconsidering research paradigms: using Texas End of Course performance to evaluate innovation in EPISD. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Southwest Educational Research Association, San Antonio, TX.

This research examines the impact of implementing project-based learning in 4 schools within schools (SWS) in El Paso Independent School District. Data from Texas end of course performance is used to explore the impact.
Sample size: 4 high schools

Methods: Chi-squared testing of end-of-course assessment scores

Year: Academic year 2015-16

Location: Texas

Findings: NTN students consistently and significantly outperformed non-NTN students on biology and English Language Arts end of course exams in Texas. Significantly more NTN students compared to similar non-NTN students met the “approaches performance band” criteria for all subject areas (algebra, biology, English Language Arts).

Keywords: Project-Based Learning, High School, School Within a School, End of Course Exam, Algebra, Biology, English

Hinnant-Crawford, B., Virtue, E., & Bergeron, L.  (2019, April). Equity Pedagogy and Project-based Learning as Instructional Weapons in a Post-Truth Era. Paper presentation (accepted) at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association, Toronto, Canada.

This preliminary analysis investigates the relationships among equity pedagogy, project-based learning and under-investigated student outcomes. Specifically, this exploratory study illuminates the relationships between student perceptions of exposure to project-based learning and equity pedagogy and their problem-solving abilities, their likelihood to persist, their consciousness and concern for society, and their capacity for civic engagement.

Sample size:  Approximately 230 high school juniors

Methods:  Exploratory study using bivariate regression

Year:  2017

Location:   Michigan, North Carolina, and Texas

Findings:  NTN PBL is strengthening student problem solving capabilities while enabling equity pedagogy.  Equity pedagogy in conjunction with NTN project-based learning is a viable pathway for preparing students to define problems, investigate and determine fact from fiction, as well as formulate and execute solutions.

Keywords:  Project Based Learning, Equity Pedagogy, Problem Solving, Civic Engagement,Culturally Relevant Pedagogy

Gordon, M. & Bergeron, L. (2018, November). Using Different Data Sources to Address the Same Research Questions: Evaluating the Effectiveness of New Curriculum on Student Outcomes. Presentation at the California Education Research Association annual meeting, Anaheim, California.

Researchers conducted a study at a high poverty, primarily Hispanic NTN Charter school. This study had two main components; comparing NTN student scores on the SAT and CAASPP with those of the national average, as well as how and to what extent ethnicity and income levels impacted reading and mathematics scores between Hispanic and White students. In addition, researchers looked at the differences in reading and mathematics scores between Hispanic students who received free or reduced lunch vs. Hispanic students who did not. Reading and mathematics scores were based on AP exams, performance on the 11th grade ELA and Math CAAPSP, and verbal and math SAT scores. Researchers also looked at how race effected whether a student applied to college and graduated from high school.

Sample size: 116 students

Methods: Quantitative analysis using an ANOVA of student CAASPP reading and mathematics scores and SAT scores.

Year: 2017 Academic Year (AY)

Location:  Public Charter School in Southern California

Findings:  Researchers found that students from this NTN Charter School exceeded the national average in the number of AP exams taken, scores on both the Math and ELA CAASPP exams, and scores on the math and reading sections on the SAT. Hispanic students who received free or reduced lunch performed worse on both ELA and Mathematics CAASPP exams than White students, but Hispanic students who did not receive free or reduced lunch consistently outperformed their White counterparts. The effect on students applying to a four-year college was independent of race and income level, with 93.9% of students who applied to a four-year college accepted to one. However, results show that there is still an achievement gap present on both sections of the SAT when looking at White vs. Hispanic students.

Keywords: Project-Based Learning, High School, High School Graduation, Urban School, College Acceptance, Southern California, SAT Scores, AP Exams , Reading Achievement, Mathematics Achievement, Quantitative Method

Bergeron, L. (2017, February).

Examining Student Outcomes in New Tech Network Title 1 Eligible Schools.Paper presentation at the annual conference of the Eastern Educational Research Association, Richmond, VA.

Sample size: 28 New Tech Network Title 1 Eligible Schools

Methods:  Descriptive analysis

Year: 2014 data

Location: National

Findings: NTN schools eligible for schoolwide Title 1 had higher graduation and enrollment rates for the class of 2014 than the national average.  Nationally, in 2014, students designated as economically disadvantaged had a graduation rate of 75% and the college enrollment rate for students from low-income families was 58%. For the class of 2014, NTN schools eligible for schoolwide Title 1 had an average HS graduation rate of 93% and college enrollment rate of 59%.   

Keywords: High School, Graduation Rates, College Enrollment, Low-Income, Title 1, College and Career Readiness

Culclasure, B., Odell, M., & Stocks, E. (2017, July). New Tech Network Interim Evaluation Report: Project Years 2013-14, 2014-15, and 2015-16.  Expanded Evaluation and i3 Samples.  Greenville, SC: Furman University.

Read the Report

Researchers from the Riley Institute at Furman University and from the University of Texas at Tyler (UTT) jointly conducted a study of four high schools that have recently transitioned into New Tech schools. This study had five components: a fidelity analysis; an analysis of outcome variables; an analysis of college and career ready variables; a teacher survey administered to New Tech teachers in the four project schools; and a culture and climate survey administered to New Tech administrators and teachers in the four project schools.

Sample size:  Four New Tech Schools and a statistically similar comparison sample

Methods: Quasi-experimental design (QED)

Year: 2014-15 and 2015-16 Academic Years (AY)

Location: Southeastern United States

Findings:The AY 2014-15 report examined NTN 9th grade outcomes.  Compared to similar students, NTN 9th graders outperformed control students on End of Course (EOC) Math and EOC English Language Arts (ELA) exams. This effect remained after controlling for Poverty, Race, and Pre-existing Achievement Level (8th grade state scores). College and career readiness was measured using the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA). Analysis of CWRA results indicated NTN students outperformed similar non-NTN students on most sections. The AY 2015-16 report examined 9th, 10th, and 11th grade student outcomes.  Compared to similar students, NTN 9th graders outperformed controls students on  EOC Math and ELA. Compared to similar students, NTN 11th graders outperformed controls students on  ACT composite scores.  In all areas examined (Workkeys, ACT subject tests, dropout, retention, dual enrollment), NTN students either outperformed similar students or no difference was found.  

Keywords: Grade Outcomes, Achievement Tests, High School Graduation Rates, College Attendance, Quasi-Experimental Design, High School, Rural

Related research:

Stocks, E., Odell, M., & Culclasure, B. (2016, October).  Strategies for Handling Unexpected Changes When Evaluating Education Projects.  Presentation at the annual American Evaluation Association (AEA) Evaluation and Design Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Zeiser, K., Taylor, J., Rickles, J., Garet, M. S., & Segeritz, M. (2014). Evidence of Deeper Learning Outcomes. (Report #3 Findings From the Study of Deeper Learning: Opportunities and Outcomes). Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research.

       Read the Report

The purpose of this study was to evaluate high schools with a mature and at least moderately well implemented approach to promoting deeper learning and determine if the students who attended these schools actually experienced greater deeper learning than their peers at schools not focused on promoting deeper learning. New Tech Network was one of ten school networks that participated in the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Deeper Learning Community of Practice. 

Sample size: 19 high schools across 10 school networks, including 2 New Tech Network schools

Methods: A mixed methods approach including interviews, observations, surveys, student work, and student performance data.

Year: 2014

Location: National

Findings:Compared to matched similar non deeper-learning schools, students who attended deeper learning network schools scored higher on all three OECD PISA-Based Test for Schools (PBTS) subjects tested (reading, mathematics, and science). They also earned higher scores on the state English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics tests.   Students who attended network schools reported higher levels of interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies, such as collaboration, academic engagement, motivation to learn, and self-efficacy.  Network students were more likely to graduate from high school on time (i.e., within four years), enroll in four-year postsecondary institutions, and enroll in selective institutions

Related research:

 Bitter, C., Taylor, J., Zeiser, K. L., & Rickles, J. (2014). Providing opportunities for deeper learning (Report #2 Findings from the study of deeper learning: Opportunities and outcomes). Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research.

 Huberman, M., Duffy, H., Mason, J., Zelser, K. L. & O’Day, J. (2016). School Features and Student Opportunities for Deeper Learning: What Makes a Difference? Washington, DC: American Institute for Research.

Dobyns, L., Walsh, C., Lee, P., & Cuilla, K. (2012). Impacting Rural Academic Achievement and Economic Development: The Case for New Tech Network High Schools. Napa: New Tech Network.

Sample size:  Two New Tech Schools with an average population of 400

Methods: Mixed methods, measurements of achievement were used in a comparative analysis (by sample design), qualitative analysis of in-person interviews was used.

Year: 2012

Location: Rural North Carolina

Findings: Results suggested that the New Tech model is successful in preparing students for college and career.  Both NTN schools had high school graduation rates of 100%, while the district averages (71% and 76%) and comparison high school averages (75% and 77%) were lower.  NTN students had higher attendance rates and composite SAT scores than the district and comparison high schools.  Business owners consistently described NTN interns as prepared, self-directed, mature, committed, persistent, professional, and curious.

Keywords: College and Career Readiness, Mixed Methods, Rural, High School,
Graduation Rates, GPA, Attendance Rates, SAT Scores

Young V. M., House, A., Wang, H., Singleton, C., & Klopfenstein, K. (2011). Inclusive STEM Schools: Early Promise in Texas and Unanswered Questions (Draft 2011-01).  Dallas, TX: University of Texas and SRI International.

Sample size: 51 academies and 7 T-STEM technical assistance centers in Texas, including “some New Tech Network” schools

Methods: 4-year longitudinal evaluation of the Texas High School Project (THSP) using a mixed-methods design, including qualitative case studies; principal, teacher, and student surveys; and a quasi-experimental approach.

Year: 2011

Location: Texas

Findings: T-STEM academies had small but statistically significant, positive effects in standardized math scores for ninth-graders and in standardized math and science scores for 10th-graders compared to peers in matched schools.

Keywords: Deeper Learning, Outcomes of Education, Transformative Learning, Critical Thinking, High School Graduation Rates, College Attendance, Interpersonal Competence, Achievement Tests, High School, Urban Texas

Project-Based Learning

The teacher profiles provided are meant to show the various ways Warm Demanders present themselves and interact with students. While these profiles demonstrate myriad ways to be a warm demander rather than one definition or approach, striving towards the balanced warm demander is important.

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Evidence of the Positive Impact of Interdisciplinary Curriculum and Integrated Instruction in New Tech Network (2022) 

Peters-Burton, E. & Holincheck, N. (2022). Evidence of the Positive Impact of Interdisciplinary Curriculum and Integrated Instruction in New Tech Network. Fairfax, VA, George Mason University.

Researchers examined the impact of interdisciplinary and integrated curriculum in a New Tech Network school. A gap analysis was conducted to assess for alignment between the integrated curriculum literature review and the New Tech Network Design. Data was collected from a New Tech Network school (opened as a New Tech Network school in 2009)  with a total of 362 students enrolled in 2021-2022 school year (9–12 grades served) and 20 teachers. The integrated courses were taught collaboratively by two teachers and consisted of 50 students in two class periods per grade level: 9th grade (world studies), 10th grade (geometry/engineering and BioLit), and 11th grade (American studies)

Read more here.

Sample Size: 362 students (grades 9-12) and 20 teachers participated in this study. 

Methods: Quantitative and qualitative data were collected through focus group interviews, gap analysis, and classroom observations. 

Year: 2022 

Locations: Midwest 

Overall Findings: The findings in the study suggest that New Tech Network school emphasized strong and inclusive school leadership, an innovative team of teachers engaged in constant improvement, and regular involvement of external partners. Evidence from the literature on the positive impact of interdisciplinary integration (interdisciplinary and integrated curriculum) on the learning environment and academic outcomes includes 1) positive student attitudes, motivation to learn, and communication skills, 2) increased problem solving and reasoning skills and content knowledge, 3) improved student engagement and 21st century skills, and 4) increased content knowledge, student interest, and student cooperation. Students experienced agency and autonomy in interdisciplinary classes; building resilience and flexibility in their co-taught courses. As a result, NTN students consistently out-performed their main campus peers on high school graduation rates. Using the three-phase Critical Friends structured provided by New Tech Network, teachers and co-teachers shared their lessons in one of three phases of completion as apart of continued learning about the benefits of co-teaching and building community trust in the classroom: Phase 1-Ideation, Phase 2-Project Planning, and Phase 3-Student Work Feedback.

Hinnant-Crawford, Brandi, Ph.D., Virtue, Emily E., Ph.D. Warm Demander Pedagogy Study. Western Carolina University. 

Researchers examined the relationship between teachers who are characterized as warm demanders and students’ perceptions of warm demanders through the implementation of project-based learning.  The study took place in three urban and suburban high school and middle schools where researchers focused on student perceptions of the impact of the warm demander stance and student perceptions of  self-reported “outcomes.” Researchers conducted a total of 16 class observations, using a Warm Demander Rubric which they created.  Student focus groups were conducted at all five schools; ranging from 2-6 participants per group. 

Sample size: 61 students and four teacher focus groups at 5 schools participated in this study.

Methods: Quantitative and qualitative data were collected through teacher and student surveys (protocol coding), classroom observations, and student assessments (self-reporting). 

Year: Spring 2022 

Locations: Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania 

Overall Findings: Findings suggest that  warm demander pedagogy may be innate but certainly can be learned. Growth in warm demander pedagogical practices can occur. Researchers found that demand often has to do with beliefs. All of the warm demanders observed believe their students can do the work that is put before them. Belief, then proceeds demand.   When a teacher believes students are capable, they demand it of them. Teachers from all five schools interpreted their own personal experiences from schooling in what influenced their warm demander rather than a specific type of instructional practice. The researchers pursued four research questions: (1) How is the warm demander stance operationalized in secondary settings? (2) To what extent does a project-based learning context provide opportunity for a warm demander stance? (3) To what extent, if any, does the background of the teacher affect the warm demander?  (4) What are student perceptions of the impact of the warm demander stance? 

Findings concluded that: (1) Teachers conveyed high expectations by establishing clear guidance about behavioral expectations, as necessary. (2) Although project-based learning was not emphasized as integral to the warm demander stance that researchers hypothesized, protocol coding and focus groups showed that project-based learning may have been the conduit teachers and students used to build trust, understanding, and design project expectations. (3) All warm demanders shared that their instructional practices are derived from reflection and refinement of teaching; not from a specific holistic stance towards teaching.  (4) Warm demander practices are salient for students who report stronger trust in their teachers when they perceive teachers as both caring, facilitate differentiated learning experiences to meet student needs, build a sense of belonging & self-efficacy for the student, and hold high expectations. In conclusion, data suggested that warm demander pedagogical practices occur when teachers believe that their students can do the assignments. Belief, then precedes demand. When a teacher believes students are capable of learning, teachers demand it of their students. 

Keywords: Project-Based Learning, Middle School, High School, Warm Demander, Asset-Based Equity Pedagogy 

Adams, J., & Duncan Grand, D. (2019). New Tech Network: Driving systems change and equity through project-based learning. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute.

We begin this report with a description of the network’s origins and an overview of the New Tech Network model, highlighting the key aspects of the network’s vision that each New Tech Network school adopts and builds on. We then identify the key structures and practices that New Tech Network uses when partnering with schools to design learning environments and build the capacity of educators. Lastly, we illustrate how the network approaches ongoing support to its affiliated schools and districts and how it approaches the idea of scale (i.e., partnering with more schools and expanding the network).

Sample size:  Network wide

Methods:  Single case study was conducted as part of a multisite investigation of three networks that have partnered with traditional public school districts

Location: Nationwide

Findings: Findings in this study illustrate the need to build and maintain school structures and practices that align with strong, equity-oriented deeper learning visions, professional supports that mirror intended instructional shifts, and systems that enable continuous improvement and collaboration.

Keywords: Deeper learning, New Tech Network, Project Based Learning

Hernández, L. E., Darling-Hammond L., Adams, J., & Bradley, K. (with Duncan Grand, D., Roc, M., & Ross, P.). (2019). Deeper learning networks: Taking student-centered learning and equity to scale. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute.

This study investigated several networks of schools that have successfully instantiated, sustained, and spread deeper learning practices in ways that advance equity and result in greater success for traditionally marginalized students. Researchers considered the systems and structures that practitioners employed to overcome the challenges associated with changing teaching and learning 

Methods:  An in-depth, nested case study approach

Year: 2017-2018

Location: Nationwide

Findings: This study examines how these networks have instantiated and re-created their models across the country. It finds that Big Picture Learning, Internationals, and New Tech Network share commons systems that have helped them successfully instantiate their deeper learning school models in new settings.

Keywords: Deeper learning, New Tech Network, Project Based Learning

Bergeron, L., Boesche-Taylor, B., Gehrke, A., Dugan-Knight, M., Kamdar, S., Vorse Wilka, J., & Gittens, C. (2019, March).  A multifaceted examination of deeper learning in PBL elementary schools:  school culture, critical thinking, and access to opportunity. Paper presented (accepted) at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness, Washington, DC.

This research seeks to understand more about how the PBL instructional model may enable students to acquire deeper learning competencies while positively impacting school culture, and about how the interaction between access to deeper learning and positive school culture may impact overall student outcomes.

Sample size: 17 elementary schools

Methods:  An explanatory quantitative case study research design was used with design and statistical controls to account for school background factors when applicable.  Pre/post design with testing for statistical significance in the change scores, and post-only spring data collection with comparative analysis using ordinal regression were used.

Year:  Academic year 2017-18

Location:  Northwest, Southeast, and Midwest of the United States.

Findings:  The measures used indicate critical thinking gains were made while students experienced a positive school culture.  NTN elementary students made significant gains in critical thinking, and reported higher levels of student engagement, academic rigor and expectations, relevance, instructional methods, and personal relationships.

Keywords:  Project-Based Learning, Instructional Methods, School Culture, Critical Thinking, Student Engagement, Academic Rigor, Personal Relationships

Bathon, J., van Rooyan, J. W. & Jobert, R. (2018). Comprehensive platform networks for school reform: A leapfrog strategy for struggling state systems. Research in Educational Administration & Leadership, 3 (2), 257282.  DOI: 10.30828/real/2018.2.6 

This article presents a review of the development of platform network models that rely on partnership contracts to implement comprehensive school reform. The literature from the previous three decades of development of school networks, emerging largely from the United States of America, is reviewed. The recent development of similar network models in South Africa is then presented for comparison

Methods: Examines the historical literature around school networks

Year: 2018

Location: South Africa and United States

Findings: Creative exploration of the collective strength of networks coupled with the amplification power of platforms may permit schools and school leaders to not only to meet the expectations of society but, more importantly, provide a better education to every child. 

Keywords: Platform Network, Emerging Technology-based Platforms, Partnerships, South Africa

National Center for Learning Disabilities. (2017.) Experiences in Practice: The Role of Project-Based Learning at Warren New Tech High School. New York, NY: Author.

Sample size: 1 New Tech School

Methods: Qualitative case study

Year: 2016

Location: North Carolina

Findings: This implementation study documented Warren New Tech’s 8 Step implementation process and the resulting benefits for all students, specifically students with disabilities.  The case study enumerated specific benefits for a student with ADHD:  1) authentic project design enabled sustained focus, 2) the longer duration of projects enabled more investment, and 3) the emphasis on a variety of skills enabled a focus on student strengths as opposed to challenges. 

Keywords: Project-Based Learning, Case Study, Students with Disabilities, ADHD, High School, Student Skills

Mosier, G., Bradley-Levine, J., Perkins, T. (January 2016).  Students’ Perceptions of Project-Based Learning within the New Tech School Model. International Journal of Educational Reform, 25(1):2-15. doi:10.1177/105678791602500101

This study used survey design to investigate how high school students perceive the implementation success of the New Tech Network model (NTN), which is organized around project-based learning (PBL), a democratic school culture, and technology integration. The study examined the relationship of the PBL instructional approach to specific indicators of NTN success as viewed by the students. Statistically significant, positive relationships were found between PBL and these indicators of success. By examining students’ perceptions, this study affirmed that PBL is critically linked to improved outcomes within the context of the NTS reform model. Implications for all educators incorporating PBL in the New Tech environment are discussed.

Sample size: 6 new Tech Schools

Methods: Quantitative survey analysis

Year: 2016

Location: Indiana

Findings: As stated in the article: Statistically significant, positive, linear relationships were found between the PBL Index and all four of the survey scales (i.e., 21st-Century Learning, Engagement, Community Partnerships, and School Culture).  The NTN PBL implementation was strongly linked to students’ perceptions of learning 21st-century skills such as collaboration, presentation, and critical-thinking skills, as well as students’ perceptions that the content they learned was relevant to their lives outside of the classroom and applicable to their future education or career trajectories.  Analysis of the open-response questions on the survey provided support for the relationships found between PBL instruction and students’ engagement in learning.

Hendry, A., Hays, G., Lynch, D., & Challinor, K. (December 2016). Enhancing Student Learning Through Project-Based Learning (PBL) in a Secondary School Integrative STEM Course. Paper Presentation at the Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, Coffs Harbour, Australia.

This study looked at how student learning of an integrative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (iSTEM) course could be enhanced when implemented through a project-based learning approach. The primary goal of the iSTEM course was to increase student engagement and help improve communication skills as students move into senior science and mathematics courses. This study also served as an opportunity to engage and educate future engineers in a way that they will experience one day at the university level.

Sample size: 58 9th grade students

Methods: Qualitative analysis including student surveys, recorded interviews, and teacher observations.

Year: 2015

Location: Western Sydney, Australia

Findings:  Findings show that the iSTEM course is a good fit for the project-based learning approach because it maximized student impact of the iSTEM course. Students reported high levels of engagement, skill development, and satisfaction with the iSTEM course through the project-based learning approach. Reported benefits of the course included peer-coaching within groups and student development of their ability to discuss and analyze complex materials to peers.

Keywords: Project-Based Learning, STEM, iSTEM, Middle School, International, Australia, Student Engagement

Related Research: Where (or what) to next for the High School ‘PBL’ STEM graduate? 26th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education 2015 Problem-Based Learning in Secondary Education: Investigating Hot and Cold Learning Outcomes. AERA 2017 Symposium Proposal Efficacy beliefs in a project-based learning setting. Dr. Jose Hanham, Dr. Daniel Lynch, Dr. Adam Hendry, University of Western Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee 2015 Hendry, A., & Viney, C. (2012). Repackaging science, engineering, technical and other applied studies curricula into authentic projects and problems. In 23rd Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education 2012: Profession of Engineering Education: Advancing Teaching, Research and Careers, The (p. 247). Engineers Australia. Hendry, A., Hays, G., Challinor, K., & Lynch, D. (2017). Undertaking Educational Research Following the Introduction, Implementation, Evolution, and Hybridization of Constructivist Instructional Models in an Australian PBL High School. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 11(2), 7.

Lynch, S. J., Spillane, N. K., Peters Burton, E., Behrend, T. S., Ross, K. M., House, A., & Han, E. M. (2013). Manor New Tech High School: A Case Study of an Inclusive STEM-Focused High School in Manor, Texas. Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.:  George Washington University Opportunity Structures for Preparation and Inspiration (OSPrI). OSPrI Report 2013-01. 

Manor New Tech High School (MNTHS) was one of twelve inclusive STEM schools evaluated as a part of the Opportunity Structures for Preparation and Inspirations research that sought to develop a model for how successful STEM schools work. MNTHS was an “exemplar” inclusive STEM-focused school and was chosen for the study based on promising elements in their design and outcomes. MNTHS met the ten critical components identified by the research team, that help students graduate with high academic achievement and tangible skills.  MNTHS met the following criteria:   STEM-focused curriculum; reform instructional strategies and project-based learning; integrated, innovative technology use; blended formal/informal learning beyond the typical school day, week, or year; real-world STEM partnerships; early college-level coursework; well-prepared STEM teaching staff; inclusive STEM mission; functional administrative structure; and supports for underrepresented students.

Sample size:  Twelve inclusive STEM schools, 1 New Tech Network school

Methods:  Mixed methods approach of ethnography, interviews and surveys as well as student performance data

Year: 2013

Location: Manor, Texas

Findings: Analysis suggested that project-based learning created an instructional environment that positively impacted student learning, relationships, and technology use.  The learning community appeared to improve student self-efficacy.  Not only did students learn 21st century skills, but also they incorporated them into projects consistently.  Nearly all NTN students in the research study graduated from high school and were accepted to college.  

Keywords: STEM Schools, STEM Education, PBL, Project-based learning, High School Graduation Rates, College Attendance, Blended Learning, Innovative Technology, Self-Efficacy

Ravitz, Jason. (2010).Beyond Changing Culture in Small High Schools: Reform Models and Changing Instruction with Project-Based Learning. Peabody Journal of Education, 85(3), 290-313.  doi:10.1080/0161956X.2010.491432.


Sample size: 395 teacher survey responses from a variety of U.S. public high schools—92 in large, comprehensive high schools, 129 in other small schools and small learning communities, and 174 in four different reform networks (New Tech High, High Tech High, EdVisions, and Envision Schools).

Methods: Quantitative analysis of teacher surveys

Year: 2010

Location: National

Findings: The New Tech Network was categorized as one of the model high school reform networks in this study.  Results suggested that reform model schools “are setting the bar for PBL use and transformation of student culture.”  Reform model schools reported more cultural and instructional reforms than non-reform schools.  

Keywords: Project-Based Learning, High School, Survey, National, Reform Model Schools, Cultural Reform, Instructional Reform

Learning Environment

Ancess, J. & Kafka, T. (2020). Bells Elementary School’s Journey of Change: A Beacon of Light on the I-95. New York, NY: National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching.

Funded by the ECMC Foundation, the case study on Bells Elementary School is one product from the research initiative for the New Tech Network (NTN) South Carolina Learning Network (SCLN). At least once each year over the three years of the project, the NCREST researchers spent up to a week at the school observing classrooms and professional development events and interviewing teachers, school staff, and students.

Read more here.

Sample size: 1 New Tech Elementary School

Methods: Case Study 

Year: 2020

Location: South Carolina

Findings:  At Bells, creating a culture that empowers, meaning that relationships are based on trust, respect, and responsibility, has come to mean a school that sees itself as a family, where there is closeness and connection.  NTN’s professional development process, including on-boarding events, New Tech Annual Conference, Leadership Summit, SCLN Convenings, and especially coaching has guided and continues to guide Bells in developing its capacity to implement, adapt, sustain, and own the NTN instructional model and a culture based on the values and goals of their NTN partnership.  Teachers have applied NTN’s value for teacher ownership of their practice to their students’ learning.  The pedagogy of project-based learning with its integrated practices and values of collaboration, agency, authenticity, knowledge building, inquiry, and communication has affected the school community not only professionally but personally.

Barnett, E., Kafka, T., & Kim, J. (2020).  Adult Learning in the New Tech Network’s SCLN Project.  New York, NY: National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching. 

Funded by the ECMC Foundation, this study is one product from a research initiative to document NTN’s four-year South Carolina Learning Network initiative (SCLN). This research included an extensive literature review, interviews, surveys, observations of events, and document analysis. 

Read more here.

Sample size: Three school districts

Methods: Case Study 

Year: 2020

Location: South Carolina

Findings:  NTN participants experienced professional growth that manifested in changes in practice.  The shift to project-based learning involved more than technical changes in practice; it challenges the established “rhythm” of schooling and requires reflection on beliefs, values, identity, and mindsets.  This type of change is necessary for professional growth (Smith, 2001) and was evident in the SCLN. 

Muller, P. & Hiller, S. (2020). Potential Impacts of the New Tech Network (NTN) Middle Grades Education Experience on Student Non-Academic Outcomes. Internal report. Center for Evaluation, Policy, & Research. Mixed methods are used to explore the impact of NTN on student engagement and agency using a comparative, multi-case study design.

Sample size: 4 NTN middle schools, 4 non-NTN middle schools

Methods: multiple regression to examine engagement and agency differences between NTN and non-NTN students; qualitative analysis of site visit data

Year: 2020

Location: Multi-state

Findings: Multiple regression controlling for differences among students for each of the three dimensions of student engagement indicate that attending a NTN school is significantly related to higher student engagement in all three dimensions and higher student agency. NTN students reported more frequent engagement in authentic learning activities and teachers and school leaders credited the NTN model with fundamental shifts to authentic learning and problem-solving.

Read More

Bergeron, L., Dugan-Knight, M., Kamdar, S., Vorse Wilka, J., Boesche-Taylor, B. (2019, April). An Exploration of the Role of Likert Items in School-Based Survey Analysis.  Paper presentation (accepted) at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association, Toronto, Canada.

This paper examines multiple ways of designing and analyzing surveys using Likert items in schools, and looks specifically at the results from a survey on school perceptions completed by elementary students.  The analysis compared students’ perceptions in PBL and non-PBL schools.

Sample size: 1,671 elementary students in six project-based learning schools

Methods:  Quantitative analysis of student surveys using a stratified t-test and an ordinal regression

Year:  2017

Location:  US public schools

Findings:  NTN students reported stronger “instructional methods”, the extent to which the teacher uses techniques that probe for understanding and provide effective supports, than non-NTN students.  Additionally, this analysis found that students at PBL schools rated the following items higher than students at non-PBL schools: 1) Does your teacher ask you about your life at home? 2) Does your teacher let you explain your ideas?

Keywords:  Instructional Methods, T-test, Ordinal Regression, School Culture, Elementary School

Lynch, SJ, Burton, EP, Behrend, T, et al. Understanding inclusive STEM high schools as opportunity structures for underrepresented students: Critical components. J Res Sci Teach. 2018; 55: 712– 748.

This is a cross-case analysis of case studies that describe the design and implementation of eight “exemplar” ISHSs. Beginning with 10 hypothesized critical components, we found evidence for all 10, but present in unique patterns of prominence, depending on the school context. Further inductive analysis located an additional four emergent critical components that complete the picture of how these successful ISHSs were able to achieve their goals

Methods:  multiple instrumental case study with subsequent cross case analysis

Year: Academic Year 2017-2018

Location: National

Findings:  Cross-case analysis revealed that four of the 10 critical components (discussed above) were most prominent, robust, and had the highest utility. These components were foundational across schools. If a component was undermined, as it was in “administrative structure” at DLMHS, the character of the school as a functioning ISHS was endangered. All of the ISHSs in this study were “outward facing” and connected curricula and student activities to the STEM world available outside the school walls, especially the world of work, employing critical components in thoughtful combinations to achieve their ends

Keywords: equity, opportunity to learn, opportunity structure, school reform/change, STEM/science education

Zeiser, K., Scholz, C., & Cirks, V. (2018, October). Maximizing Student Agency. (Findings from the final report of: Implementing and Measuring Student-Center Learning Practices) Washington, DC: American Institute for Research.

Researchers investigated the impact of specific student-centered practices, looking specifically at study agency, or the ability to manage one’s learning, and how this can have a significant effect on student academic achievement. The American Institute for Research worked with three New Tech Network High Schools in three different states to determine which teacher practices help or challenge the development of student agency. In addition, they looked at whether these practices are effective across educational contexts and with different student subgroups.

Sample size: 427 survey responses from students from 4 participating schools.

Methods: A mixed-methods study including surveys, focus groups, and Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle data collection

Year: 2017-2018

Location: The Midwest

Findings: Findings for this study were separated into three categories: 1. Teacher practices designed to promote student agency, 2. Contextual factors influencing the promotion of student agency, and 3. Lessons learned about surveying student agency over time. Researchers found that teacher practices designed to promote student agency fell into three categories: student opportunities, student-teacher collaboration, and teacher-led approaches. Teachers identified supportive schoolwide processes, teacher collaboration, and professional development as the main factors contributing to promoting agency. Finally, while most measures of student agency were found to have effective measurement properties within the study, perseverance of interest did not strongly relate with these components.

Keywords: Student Agency, High Schools, Mixed Methods, Surveys, Urban Schools, Collaboration, Professional Development

Surr, W., Zeiser, K., Briggs, O., & Kendziora, K. (2018, October). Learning with Others (Findings from the final report of: A Study Exploring the Relationship Between Collaboration, Personalization, and Equity) Washington, DC: American Institute for Research.

This study explored racial differences in experiences and benefits in four high schools that embrace the student-centered learning model. Data was collected from students, teachers, and classrooms from four racially diverse high schools that emphasized personalization and collaboration in their teaching philosophy. The three areas for measurement in this study were high-quality collaboration, classroom environment, and student outcomes.

Sample size: 892 students, 138 teachers, and 30 classrooms from 4 different schools

Methods: Mixed methods approach including interviews, focus groups, survey, classroom observations, and demographic and academic records.

Year: 2017

Location:  New England, the Midwest, and the Southeast

Findings: Overall, student reports of high-quality collaboration were strongly associated with positive classroom experiences, as well as mind-set and dispositional outcomes, such as motivation, engagement, and self-efficacy. Relative to their non-black peers, black students reported feelings of less relevancy, experienced recurring exclusion and marginalization, and received lower support from teachers during collaborative groupwork. Collaboration benefits and available supports were perceived differently for English language teachers and mathematics teachers.

Keywords: Collaboration, Personalization, High School, Student-Centered Model, Student Outcomes, Diversity, Mixed-Methods

Traphagen, Kathleen. (2013). Time for Deeper Learning: Lessons from Five High Schools. Boston, MA: National Center on Time and Learning (NCTL).

Sample size: Five High Schools, including 1 New Tech Network School

Methods: Single school case studies were conducted.  Researchers conducted site visits and interviews to document effective practices.

Year: 2013

Location: Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, California, Indiana

Findings: The 5 case study schools were successful in creating deeper learning environments because educators restructured how time is used for learning and how teachers use time to build new skills.  The author suggested that a conventional school schedule might not offer sufficient time to support all students in acquiring the full range of deeper learning skills.

Keywords: Learning Environments, High Schools, Urban, School Schedules, Case Study

Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL). (2011). Research Report for Fourth-Year Implementation of New Tech High Schools in Indiana. Indianapolis, IN: University of Indianapolis.

Sample size: 16 NTN High Schools

Methods: A mixed methods approach including interviews, observations,  document review, surveys, and quantitative analysis of teacher and student data.

Year: 2011

Location: Indiana

Findings:  Findings suggested that the New Tech Network schools in Indiana: 1) implemented project-based learning with high fidelity, 2) demonstrated consistent and efficient use of teacher and student technology, 3) attained higher attendance rates when compared to similar non New Tech schools, and 4) took disciplinary action via expulsion and suspension less than similar non New Tech schools.  

Feedback: Learning Environments, High Schools, Mixed Methods, Urban, Project-Based Learning, Technology, Attendance Rates.

School Culture

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.

Researchers revised New Tech Network School’s Culture Survey to provide project-based learning schools with a tool to measure school culture in order to support equitable and effective learning environments for all students. The survey, originally created in 1996, has undergone several revisions based on input from school practitioners. Survey items were categorized into six factors: 1. Relationship with peers, 2. School Connectedness, 3. Rules and Discipline, 4. College and Career Ready, 5. Learning, and 6. Adult Relationships.

Sample size: 3959 survey from 90 schools, grades 6-12

Methods: Quantitative analysis using confirmatory factor analysis and exploratory factor analysis.

Year: 2015-2016 AY

Location: National

Findings: The authors used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to replicate the factor structure of the previously validated Student Culture Survey (SCS).  Both the 6-factor and 5-factor version of the SCS failed to adequately replicate due to poor model fit.  Thus, the authors used exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to explore the true nature of the correlations, and subsequently removed and reallocated several items onto different factors.  They found a new 6-factor structure that emphasized school pride, and found a meaningful relationship between college and career readiness, and adult relationships.  The authors suggested revising some items to disentangle those relationships.

Keywords: Project-Based Learning, Public Schools, Grades 6-12, Survey, Student Culture, Academic Outcomes, Confirmatory Factor Analysis, Exploratory Factor Analysis

Policy Papers

Peters-Burton, E. E. & Holincheck, N. (2020). Interdisciplinary curriculum and integrated instruction: A literature review. New Tech Network, Napa, CA.

Read more here.

The NTN model aligns with research on best practices in integrated instruction.  Specifically, use and understanding performance assessment makes teachers more likely to design integration (Newhouse, 2017) and integration leads to positive student attitudes, motivation to learn, and communication skills (Criscan, 2014; Ferguson-Patrick, Reynolds, & Macqueen, 2018; Newhouse, 2017).

New Tech Network Research and Measurement, September 2020

Bergeron, L., Boesche-Taylor, B., & Bogdan, C.  (2020).  Adult Capacity Building and Change Management Across Schools and Districts: Evidence from the Quality Assurance Evaluation.  New Tech Network, Napa, CA.

Read more here.

Launched in 2019, the NTN quality assurance infrastructure was developed in consultation with Tom Guskey. Guskey is a professor, AERA Fellow, and author of 18 books and over 200 articles, including the seminal text (2000), Evaluating professional development. The NTN QAI provides a framework to understand the professional learning experiences of NTN educators and evaluate conditions for lasting change.  Professional development is implemented with the goal of improving learning experiences for students.  Professional development is considered a key driver of successful school level change and development (Day, 1999). The NTN Quality Assurance Infrastructure is informed by the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation (JCSEE)’s Program Evaluation Standards, Learning Forward’s (formerly National Staff Development Council) Standards for Professional Learning, and Guskey’s 5 Critical Levels of Professional Development Evaluation (Guskey, 2000). The NTN model provides support over a sustained duration (see Darling-Hammond, Hyler, and Gardner, 2017) and because professional learning is not an isolated process, neither is evaluation of professional learning.  The NTN approach supports and sustains adult shifts over time and learning objectives are met during the planning event and sustained through the implementation events.  Evidence supports consistent high quality virtual and in-person adult learning.

Bergeron, L. (2019, November).  Leveraging evaluation data to support change management across schools and districts.  Presentation at the annual conference of the American Evaluation Associations, Minneapolis, MN.

Programmatic shifts and school redesigns in K-12 settings are complex endeavors undertaken within matrixed systems with success dependent on the ability to navigate change and implement with fidelity.  This program evaluation documents the data leveraged to support change in a large school network serving approximately 200 schools. The areas of measurement include a modified version of Guskey’s 5 levels (2000):  reaction, learning, organization, use of new knowledge, and student outcomes. Pre and post event data were collected from 91 educators (Teacher Residency) and post-only data was collected from 27 educators (Planning Track).

Sample size:  Network-wide

Methods: Survey analysis, document analysis, and school level outcomes

Year: Academic year 2018-19

Location: National

Findings: The findings suggest that the planning and pre-implementation supports provided to facilitate school redesigns position the schools to navigate change.  Specifically, educators documented “a shared understanding of the changes to our current staff culture that need to be made” and significant increases in understanding of the school transformation model.

Keywords: Change Management, Professional Development

Honey, M., Pearson, G., & Schweingruber, H. (2014). STEM Integration in K-12 Education: Status, Prospects, and an Agenda for Research. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.

Sample size: 28 programs, projects, schools, and other initiatives engaged in integrated STEM education were evaluated, including 1 New Tech Network school.

Methods: The study reviewed literature on current STEM programs, with an emphasis on those that link multiple STEM categories, to assess which programs could be useful in implementing STEM on a wider scale.

Year: 2014

Location: National

Findings: Two areas of potential impact of integrated STEM were identified: 1) learning and achievement and 2) interest and identity.

Keywords: Policy, STEM Education, Literature Review, National, K-12 Education, Achievement, Identity

National Research Council. (2011). Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Committee on Highly Successful Science Programs for K-12 Science Education. Board on Science Education and Board on Testing and Assessment, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC.: The National Academies Press.

Sample size: Literature review

Methods: The Committee on Highly Successful Schools or Programs for K-12 STEM Education outlined criteria to identify and evaluate schools with successful programs as well as develop appropriate data sources from which to make their evaluations

Year: 2011

Location: National

Findings: A New Tech high school was included as an exemplar in this NSF report because it embodied the characteristics of effective schools and programs in K-12 STEM.

Keywords: Policy, STEM Education, Literature Review, National, K-12 Education, Achievement, Identity

National Education Association (NEA), NEA Education Policy and Practice Department, Center for Great Public Schools. (2008). NEA Policy Brief: Parent, Family, Community Involvement in Education. 

Parent, family, and community involvement in education correlates with higher academic performance and school improvement. When schools, parents, families, and communities work together to support learning, students tend to earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school longer, and enroll in higher level programs

Methods: Review of literature

Year: 2008

Location: National

Findings: While some states and school districts have enacted laws and policies to encourage parent-community school partnerships, more enforcement is needed. At the same time, promising, locally developed practices should be rewarded, sustained, and expanded

Keywords: Parent involvement, Family Involvement, School Culture

Friedlaender, D., Darling-­‐Hammond, L., et. al. (2007). High Schools for Equity: Policy Supports for Student Learning in Communities of Color. Stanford, CA: The School Redesign Network and Justice Matters at Stanford University.

Sample size: 5 urban High Schools, 1 NTN School

Methods: A mixed method approach is used describing characteristics of schools and student performance data.

Year: 2007

Location: California

Findings: These schools, including New Tech High School of Sacramento, demonstrate that personalization and models such as NTN’s serve low-income students of color well.

Keywords: Policy, Urban, High School, Mixed Methods, Low-Income Students, Equity, Student Performance