Frequently Asked Questions

Can I participate in athletics, clubs, etc. if I participate in the New Tech Program?

Yes. Niles New Tech is a program at Niles High School. All students are offered the same extracurriculars. 

Does the Niles New Tech program cover the same state standards as Niles High School traditional learning and other high schools in the state of Michigan?

Yes. All schools in the district and state are accountable to uphold the same Common Core standards adopted by the state of Michigan. Our staff spends considerable time developing relevant projects and problems that align with the Common Core standards. Our students are individually evaluated on their mastery of these standards as part of each project they complete or problem they solve.

If I participate in the Niles New Tech program, will I still have to take tests and quizzes?

Yes. Students are still held accountable for their own understanding of the content taught in each course. Assessment of individual understanding can take many forms, including traditional tests and quizzes.

Do students in the New Tech program still get homework?

Yes. Whether it be a portion of a project that needs to be completed for an upcoming milestone, a reading assignment, or practice problems, students do oftentimes have to complete work outside of the classroom. We encourage students to stay after school when they can to get help and avoid taking work home. Many successful students take advantage of this opportunity.

If someone in my group doesn't do his part of a project, will it hurt my grade?

While collaboration is an essential part of our model, over 90% of a learner's grade is based on individual work and mastery of content. Less than 10% is based on a group grade.Possibly, but it shouldn't. In most projects, approximately 90% of the assessed work is individual assessment of mastery. To support groupwork, we start all projects and problems with group contracts. These are written agreements between group members that outline how the group will operate, who will be responsible for each task, and what will happen when someone doesn't do their share of the work. While the goal is always to have every member of a group do his or her part, these contracts allow groups to "fire" reluctant learners. Students who get fired have to complete all work for their project on their own.

Do Niles New Tech learners graduate with Niles High School students?

Yes. The Niles New Tech program is a two year program. After two years students integrate into traditional learning / courses within the high school. All students are Niles High School are Niles High School students and will graduate at the same time.

What are integrated courses and how will they appear on my transcript?

An integrated course is one course in which two subjects are taught and assessed together by two teachers as one fluid learning experience. Grades for integrated courses are reported separately on learner transcripts. For example, our American Studies course integrates U.S. History and English 9. For this course, a learner's transcript shows two grades - one for each respective course.

Can New Tech students take courses, like band or choir? 

Absolutely. Learners can take traditional elective courses. We call a course taken outside the New Tech program a "passport" course.

Where does the name "New Tech" come from?

The first New Tech high school was founded in 1996 in Napa, CA, when local business leaders, frustrated by the lack of skilled graduates ready for college or the workplace, came together with the idea of starting a school that would teach the skills necessary to thrive in the new economy. That school was Napa New Technology High School in Napa, California. Napa New Tech's success is nationally recognized for innovation and excellence in high school education. By traditional measures, New Tech students surpass their state and local peers with high attendance, graduation rates and test scores. They also emerge ready for college and the careers of the future. Niles New Tech opened in 2011 by joining the New Tech Network - a consortium of schools working to replicate the success of this school in Napa. Today, there are 86 schools in the network with more schools joining each year.

How is the New Tech program different from more traditional learning?

Niles New Tech program embraces three key elements that set us apart from traditional schools.

  • Engaging and rigorous instruction based on Project- and Problem-Based Learning (PBL & PrBL). Our students learn by doing - completing projects and solving problems that are relevant to their lives.
  • Collaborative culture promoting trust, respect, and responsibility. New Tech's culture empowers students and teachers with exceptional ownership of the learning environment. Our students are given a level of responsibility similar to what they might experience in a professional workplace.

If I don't like the New Tech program once school starts, can I transfer to traditional learning?

Yes, but only after completing the first year. We respect that some people may find project and problem-based learning is not their preferred learning style, but we require that all students spend a full year working in it before deciding to leave. We require this for three primary reasons: 1.) The beginning of the first year can be stressful for some students. We don't want anyone to make a rash decision they come to regret later. 2.) Our program is unique in the way courses are integrated and sequenced. While our courses cover the same content standards as traditional courses, they may not do so in the same order. Transferring out of our program mid-year could lead to missing important information. 3.) We believe that there is value in keeping a commitment. Allowing students to leave early would contradict with that belief.

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