University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

A Glimpse Into New Tech High Schools in Arkansas

In The View from the OEP on May 7, 2014 at 5:55 pm

new techAs Arkansas prepares to close her third year of implementing New Tech high schools, we at the OEP wondered about the impact of this new model and how it has been going. Thus, for our next policy brief covering innovative programs in Arkansas that are preparing students for post-secondary options and careers, we focus on the New Tech Network, a national high school model that utilizes project-based learning, a 1:1 student to computer ratio, and a culture that empowers students. Cross County principal David Clark put it this way: “Rather than a teacher standing in front of a classroom and delivering information and students spitting it back on a test, what we try to do is present a situation students want to know the answer to.” You can read more about project-based learning stem works

New Tech came to Arkansas in 2011, with the announcement of Governor Beebe’s STEM Works pilot program. This program focuses on improving the quality of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education available in Arkansas high schools. “The STEM fields offer stable, well-paying careers for the 21st century, and the demand continues to grow at a rapid pace,” Governor Beebe said. “These are positions that companies are struggling to fill, even in tough economic times. If we are to continue to attract these types of companies to Arkansas, we must prepare our young people with high-tech skills and build a workforce that will help our state prosper.”

STEM Works calls for certain Arkansas schools to become conversion charter schools and implement the New Tech model. It started with Lincoln and Cross County School Districts in 2011, and now Arkansas has 15 schools implementing the New Tech model, the third most in the nation (behind California and Indiana).

For purposes of proximity, our policy brief spotlights the two New Tech schools closest to our office in Fayetteville: Rogers New Technology High School and Lincoln High School. We wish to extend our appreciation to principals Dr. Lance Arbuckle at Rogers and Courtney Jones at Lincoln for taking time to speak to us about their experiences with New Tech.

matt mcclureWe are proud to announce that Matt McClure, superintendent of Cross County School District, will be speaking at our OEP Conference on May 15, 2014, on the topic of New Tech. Matt McClure has voiced his support of project-based learning and the New Tech model:

“I see project- based learning as a vehicle that will help students excel in the Common Core State Standards and in developing the 21st-century skills needed beyond high school.

“According to the US Department of Education, students will have 10-14 careers by the time they are 35. Our job is not to prepare them for one single career or job. They need skills that will translate to a variety of jobs. Students need communication and collaboration skills along with problem solving to succeed in today’s global economy.”

Learn more about New Tech high schools in our policy brief and attend the OEP Conference to join the conversation about how we can best prepare our Arkansas students to be “college and career ready”!


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