This November, the White House will host a national convening on transforming high schools to better serve all students. The “Next Gen High School Summit” will highlight new resources and investments—from the federal government and others—focused on advancing high school redesign and will feature educators, administrators, education researchers, industry and foundation leaders, and others working to create a more equitable education system that improves learning outcomes for all students.
“When high schools are designed for the twenty-first century, they are a springboard into opportunity,” reads an October 21 blog post by Roberto J. Rodríguez, deputy assistant to the president for education, announcing the summit. “And in today’s innovation economy, with rapid growth in high-wage fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), the role of high schools is more important than ever. … However, for too many American students, high school is a time of disengagement that fails to put them on a path to college and career success.”
Rodríguez lists several ways that “next-gen” high schools are changing their approach to student learning, including personalized learning for all students; learning assessments that allow students to demonstrate mastery, creativity, and critical thinking; high-quality and continuous professional development; and a more flexible use of time during the school day.
President Obama has visited some of these schools, including P-Tech, an early college high school in Brooklyn, where students graduate with both a diploma and an associate’s degree in a field related to computers or engineering, and Manor New Technology High School in Austin, Texas.
“Our economy can’t succeed unless our young people have the skills that they need to succeed,” Obama said during a 2013 visit to Manor. “And that’s what’s happening here, right at Manor New Tech. There’s a reason why teachers and principals from all over the country are coming down to see what you’re up to. Because every day, this school is proving that every child has the potential to learn the real-world skills they need to succeed in college and beyond.”
“Still, a handful of exceptional schools on their own won’t reach the millions of students across the country who do not have access to the rigorous content they need to be successful, including basic STEM courses and opportunities, and a greater effort is needed to bring next generation learning innovations to all students,” Rodríguez writes.
Earlier this year, President Obama proposed a new $125 million competitive grant program that would promote the redesign of America’s high schools in his Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget. The Next Generation High Schools program would integrate student-centered instruction and “deeper learning,” which delivers rich core content to students in innovative ways that allows them to learn and then apply what they have learned. The program would have a particular focus on STEM-themed high schools that expand opportunities for girls and other groups of students who are underrepresented in STEM fields.
Final funding decisions for FY16 have yet to be made—the federal government is currently operating under a short-term measure that will keep the government open through December 11—but funding for the president’s Next Generation High Schools program was not included in FY16 appropriations bills passed by the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, meaning the program is unlikely to be funded this fiscal year.
The Next Gen High School Summit will highlight examples of strong collaborations that are benefiting low-income and under-represented students, as well as commitments from leaders in philanthropy and industry who are re-thinking the way that high school education is delivered.
Individuals involved in work that supports next generation high schools are encouraged to submit their information to the White House to be considered for use during the summit. The submission deadline is Friday, October 30.
More information, including a submissions form, is available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/webform/white-house-summit-next-generation-high-schools.