Networks for School Improvement grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation enables districts to develop strategies to improve college access
NAPA, Calif., SEPTEMBER 12, 2019- New Tech Network announced a new initiative with three Texas school districts to improve college access by utilizing improvement science practices in select district high schools. The multi-year initiative is supported by a Networks for School Improvement (NSI) grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). School teams from Comal Independent School District, Ector County Independent School District and El Paso Independent School District will work together to identify and address common problems that impact students in pursuing and succeeding in college. Over the next five years, the improvement science efforts will scale to serve 50 high schools, with the aim of improving student postsecondary success.
New Tech Network, a national nonprofit organization and leading design partner for comprehensive K-12 school change, will support the school teams in their work and convene the teams to facilitate learning from each other. “We view the growing interest in utilizing improvement science methodology as a quite promising way to help schools get better at preparing students for success after graduation in postsecondary paths they want to pursue. We believe school teams from different districts working together, and relying on the power of school networks, will develop new skills and processes that will improve outcomes,” says Lydia Dobyns, CEO and President of New Tech Network. “Our own journey with improvement science began four years ago, and we’re looking forward to providing coaching and resources to these three vibrant Texas communities.”
Improvement Science is a disciplined approach to education innovation and improved practice (from “Learning to Improve: How American Schools Can Get Better at Getting Better” (Byrk, Gomez, Grunow, Mahieu)) and pioneered by the Carnegie Institute for Teaching. School teams in the new Network for School Improvement community will collect and analyze data, identify new ideas, and implement specific changes to determine whether the changes have the intended impact.
“Our ongoing partnership with New Tech Network and this new opportunity to collaborate with other Texas districts benefits our community in two key ways: Not only are we adopting improvement science to directly support students who might not otherwise get to, and succeed in college, but our school teams are learning valuable methods that can be used for a variety of complex challenges,” says Juan Cabrera, Superintendent at El Paso Independent School District in El Paso, Texas. “We owe it to our community to design new approaches based on well-established methods in our quest to meet each student’s needs.”
The three districts joining the new NSI are Comal Independent School District, Ector County Independent School District and El Paso Independent School District. Among the three Texas districts, this work will impact more than 4,300 high school students in the first year and will expand to 50 schools across multiple districts in Texas. NTN has been engaged in district and charter school partnerships across Texas for more than 12 years. In the coming academic year, there will be 25 New Tech member schools in 11 districts.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant will enable NTN to provide resources, coaching, data analytics training and guidance. “We will support schools to help them discover and assess how the changes they make better support students,” says Dobyns. “Districts and schools working together to analyze student challenges and sharing ideas and methodologies are the aims of this work.”
About New Tech Network
New Tech Network, a national nonprofit organization, is a leading design partner for comprehensive K-12 school change. NTN has successfully guided over 200 schools and districts in 28 states with a whole school, systemic approach where student skills are valued as much as test scores. New Tech Network provides professional development and coaching for teachers and school leaders to inspire and engage all students through authentic and challenging work. The New Tech school model features multiple student learning outcomes combined with pervasive project-based learning, an inclusive school-wide culture and the real-world use of technology tools and resources.