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New Technology High School Receives $4.9 Million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Foundation grant to support the development of technology high schools designed to help all students achieve

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Scot Stewart
New Tech High Foundation
Phone: 707.259.8524

NAPA, Calif. -- The New Technology Foundation will use a $4.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to replicate the New Technology High School (NTHS) model in 10 northern California communities. The grant was announced this afternoon at a school-wide celebration.

"At New Tech High, we believe that how students learn is at least as important as what they learn," said School Director Mark Morrison. "Our students learn in a small, innovative and flexible environment. Combine that with advanced teaching and learning methods and technology, and young people have tremendous opportunities to become adults prepared to excel in the new world economy."

The unique combination of teamwork and technology has created an atmosphere at NTHS in which all students are achieving at high levels. The student to computer ratio is one-to-one, and technology is such an integral part of students' learning that they turn in their homework via e-mail. Students also depend on collaboration with teachers and their peers for learning, and real-world work experience is gained through internships at the many high tech companies that supported the creation of the school.

After four years in operation, the outcomes at NTHS are impressive: SAT scores for the 1998-1999 school year were an average of 16.5 points higher than the state average, and 14 points higher than the national average. The school's scores on the Stanford Achievement Test 9 (SAT 9) for the same year were, on average, 17 points higher than the state. Additionally, NTHS excellence has been recognized externally by the U.S. Department of Education which named the school as a demonstration site for integrating multimedia into academic programs and by the State of California which has named the school as a model business career pathway (Tech Prep), a model Digital High School, and a demonstration site for integrating technology into the classroom.

"Our real success," said Morrison, "is that 95 percent of our graduates choose to continue their education after high school. And this is due, in a large part, to a partnership with Napa Valley College that allows all students to be co-enrolled in the college and at NTHS."

Using NTHS as a model, the New Technology Foundation has created a process for replicating the high school in other communities. The process includes assessing prospective communities to determine if they have the necessary political, industry and community support for a school, providing a guide of companies interested in the concept, conducting a teacher internship program at the new school, and providing consultation on site-preparation.

"We are enormously excited about this grant to the New Technology Foundation," said foundation President, Scot Stewart. "The New Technology Foundation's mission is to develop projects and programs that generate income to support the kind of education that is happening at NTHS. This grant will allow us to share that kind of education with ten more schools in the region. We are elated."

Tom Vander Ark, Executive Director of Education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, noted the importance of community support for schools like NTHS. "Strong schools depend on strong partnerships with the community, the staff and students," he said, "This grant recognizes the success that NTHS has had in using these relationships and leveraging technology to create a school that works for all students."

The grant to the New Technology Foundation is part of more than $36 million in grants announced this week by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Through a series of five grants, the Foundation is supporting the creation of up to 64 new small schools in communities from Napa to Oakland to East Palo Alto and San Diego. Like New Tech High School, the new schools will use technology and strong relationships – teacher-student, teacher-staff and student-work relationships – to help create small, personalized learning environments that help all students achieve.

Supporting model schools is one of three philanthropic strategies pursued by the Foundation for improving education. Other investments focus on removing financial barriers to higher education and developing strong education leaders through training on effective use of technology.

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