School to Undergo Tech Makeover

Hawaii's lowest performing high school looks to revamp its teaching style with project-based learning.

by Converge Staff / May 5, 2009 0

In a desperate effort to raise test scores and improve learning, Nanakuli High School, the lowest performing high school in Hawaii, will undergo an academic makeover that focuses on teacher development and hands-on, project-based learning, the Honolulu Advertiser reports.

Administered by the New Technology Foundation, the school reform will give each student a computer and also require students to earn college credit while attending high school. Administrators hope these changes will help turn around the struggling school and students "disillusioned by traditional classroom environments and monotonous book learning."

Two-thirds of the students at Nanakuli are Native Hawaiian. Nearly 20 percent of all students are in special education and more than half come from disadvantaged homes. Reading and math proficiency for Nanakuli students is considerably below state averages and when it comes to standardized tests, the school ranks at the bottom.

Nanakuli will implement the New Tech model over the next four years. Both Kamehameha Schools and the Harold Castle Foundation will pay for most of the $450,000 cost.

Key elements of Nanakuli High and Intermediate School's new tech model will include:

•    One-to-one computer-to-student ratio
•    Content areas (math, reading, English, social studies, science) taught through "real projects, real world, real learning"
•    Projects or curriculum units relate to real problems or issues faced by Nanakuli students
•    Students concurrently take college courses in their senior year of high school
•    Teachers participate in rigorous teacher training through New Tech and are coached regularly through New Tech
•    Teachers team together during instruction
•    Students present projects to community partners, businesses, local lawmakers and other stakeholders in their communities

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