In a March 3 speech to the Association of American Publishers, U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pointed to Manor New Technology High School, in Manor, Texas as a model for reaching underserved students.
Secretary Duncan was announcing the release of a draft of the National Education Technology Plan: "Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology," which lays out a roadmap for integrating 21st-century technologies into all schools in the United States to improve the quality of education for all students.
Secretary Duncan emphasized the potential of new technologies to close the achievement gap between white students and Hispanic and African American students. But he warned that students, teachers, and schools will have to be “smart and strategic in how they use technology” if students are to meet new, higher standards.
Secretary Duncan asked the audience to “consider Manor New Tech High School in Manor, Texas," as an example of a school making smart and strategic use of technology and as "a model for reaching underserved youth.”
More than 50% of Manor New Tech’s students are considered to be economically disadvantaged, and more than 50% of the school’s teachers had less than a year of experience when the school opened in 2007. But in that first year, New Tech students outperformed the state average by 16% in science. Now in its third year, Manor New Tech has a 97% attendance rate and virtually no dropouts.
According to Secretary Duncan, “Manor’s leaders credit their success to project-based learning and to full and integrated use of technology.”
Manor New Tech has been attracting local and national notice since it welcomed its first cohort of students in 2007. Staff from the Dana Center toured the school in March 2008 as part of the Center’s work with the Texas High School Project to learn from exemplary schools with a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) focus.
Dana Center staff were intrigued by what they learned in this brief visit, and made arrangements with the Texas High School Project to pursue a more in-depth investigation of Manor New Tech.
Over the course of the 2008–2009 school year, Dana Center researchers visited classrooms, observed teacher meetings, and interviewed staff members and students at Manor New Tech. The researchers were particularly interested in learning how Manor New Tech’s teachers and leaders were able to guide students to take responsibility for their own learning.
In fall 2009, the Dana Center released a summary of its findings, with the goal of helping STEM education practitioners in Texas and the nation improve their practice and, ultimately, student outcomes.
To learn more about how Manor New Tech is using technology and project-based learning to improve student outcomes, download the full Dana Center report here (pdf 280 kb).