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New Tech praised by 2 AC students

June 13th, 2012

News Coverage:

New Tech praised by 2 AC students

By JANNAYA ANDREWS

With concerns being raised over the past several months regarding the monitoring of New Tech, students Riley McCullough and Cooper Hill, along with teacher Katie Isch, on Tuesday gave a presentation to the AC Board of Education, demonstrating the tools they have learned with New Tech and how the program has helped them as students.

Hill told the board that with New Tech, students work in groups throughout the day which he feels has strengthened his communication skills and his ability to collaborate with others.

McCullough added that she feels New Tech has given her several opportunities to grow as a student, has taught her about teamwork, and has made her more comfortable talking to large groups of people.

These students had the opportunity to demonstrate some of the skills they accredited to the program as board members questioned them at length about the differences between the New Tech program and a traditional classroom setting. Both students seemed to take each question in stride and answered every query thrown their way.

The biggest concern for board members seems to be the lack of benchmarks for the program. With several board members asking for the students’ input on how they feel the program works, it seemed in the end that it boiled down to the same basic questions; is New Tech a viable program for all students and how can board members be certain the school is heading in the right direction with this technology?

Both Hill and McCullough stated that by being a project-based learning system, the program forces students to focus on time management and take more responsibility for what they learn. The duo added that by working on large projects in groups they feel more incentive to do well because the work they do, or don’t do, effects others as well.

“We’re not just sitting there listening to a teacher talk,” said Hill. “When we’re working on our projects we have to do all the research, find all the information we need to get things done. So you don’t even feel like you’re learning, but you are.”

Although the board was pleased to hear the program was working well, at least for these two students, the question of how the school could track the progress of the program remained. That’s where Isch stepped in, telling the board that when researchers compared standardized testing scores of New Tech students with those of traditional learning, the scoring results were pretty even.

“The difference came about a year later when researchers tested the students for a second time over the same material,” said Isch. “When tested a year later, the New Tech students scored significantly higher than traditional learning students. They’re retaining a lot more information.”

When asked how students who may have struggled in the traditional classroom setting were fairing in the New Tech program, Isch said “I’ve seen some of them improve, slightly in some cases and a lot in others, and I’ve seen a lot of them stay the same. But I haven’t seen a decline.”

McCullough and Hill added that they feel the group setting helps students who may be struggling since the students are there to help each other.

“I feel it helps them become more motivated to do well because they don’t want to let their group down,” said McCullough.

“There’s always going to be some students who just don’t want to do the work,” added Hill. “Some are always going to try to be a little lazy and aren’t going to be interested in doing everything they’re capable of. I don’t think New Tech can change that, but they’re responsible for their work and for what they bring to the group and I think that helps.”

The board thanked the students for attending and addressing some of the concerns it has, and commended the way Hill and McCullough presented themselves. In the end, board members decided they would continue to monitor the progress of the program and would strive for a way to better establish solid data, such as standardized test scores and possibly following up with students once they enter college.

“Our goal is to help these kids be as successful as possible,” said Superintendent Mike Pettibone. “We’re going to continue to do everything in our power to make sure we’re making the right decisions for our students.”

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