Plain Dealing high drops New Tech curriculum

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LA New Tech will change name back to Plain Dealing High School

The Bossier Parish School Board has approved a recommendation to change the name of LA New Tech @ Plain Dealing after school administrators decided they will no longer follow the New Tech program.

The school will transition back to a block schedule and be called Plain Dealing High School, which serves grades sixth through twelfth. Bossier Schools Superintendent D.C. Machen said students and parents were notified of the change when the decision was made earlier this spring.

The New Tech program was implemented at the Plain Dealing school in 2009 with an agreement to use the program for three years. Upon its completion, the school system would have the choice whether or not to renew the program on a yearly basis.

When it came time to renew the program in 2013, Machen said there were some questions about whether they would continue with the program.

“In 2012, Act I implemented the Compass rubric for all teachers. It requires teachers to incorporate project based learning activities and strategies as well as cooperative learning experiences and effective utilization of technology,” Machen explained. “All of these things were the strengths of the New Tech program, which required teachers to clearly demonstrate they are utilizing those strategies and practices in daily classroom activities to enhance student learning.”

The Bossier Parish school board agreed in April 2013 to go ahead with the program for one more year and pay for the renewal and additional training. In that time, Machen said school administrators “evaluated the program and its progress or lack of progress made” to determine if the New Tech program was something to continue.

It was then decided by school administrators and the parish curriculum team that the New Tech program would not be renewed in the spring of 2014 or implemented for the 2014-2015 school year.

“We felt that every student was not benefitting and achieving the desired goals, nor was every teacher implementing them with fidelity,” Machen said. “Based on that fact and the fact that there is a frequent turnover of teachers, we felt it was better to transition the school to the regular curriculum and Compass system.”

Since the school will not be a New Tech school, students will have access to the new Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning, which is currently under construction with an estimated completion date in the summer of 2015.

“This opens the doors for them to be able to take advantage of those opportunities,” Machen added.

The change will also save the school system money from not renewing the program.

The annual renewal fee for the New Tech program is $15,000. However, an additional $10,000 was spent each year to retrain new teachers, which was required because of a “frequent turnover in staffing,” Machen said.

However, Machen stressed that “the decision was not made based on monetary reasons.”

“The decision was based on the fact that the whole school New Tech approach was not meeting the needs of all students in the school,” he said.

Moving forward, Machen said expectations for the school remain high as with all schools in the parish.

“Our hope is that these advanced learning opportunities will continue and that the students will continue to show improvement,” he said.