President Barack Obama wants to take high schools to the next level.
The White House is scheduled to host a “Next Gen High School Summit” on Tuesday with top administration officials as well as students, educators and entrepreneurs, to put STEM and personalized learning at the center of the national conversation about education.
The summit is part of a broader federal effort to transform schools — earlier this year, the administration requested $125 million for a competitive Department of Education program that would help communities “launch Next-Generation High Schools that will be laboratories for cutting-edge STEM teaching and learning,” according to officials. (The new program is unlikely to be funded in the 2016 budget this fiscal year, since it was not included in the appropriations bills pending in both chambers of Congress, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education.)
The models for these innovative schools are secondary institutions like the highly touted P-Tech, which Obama visited in Brooklyn, New York, in 2013. Students are able to graduate with an associate’s degree and are able to complete internships at tech companies like IBM, which helped launch the schools.
The schools, formally known as the Pathways in Technology Early College High School, are now expanding to other states like Rhode Island, and offer the associate’s degrees in computer information systems or engineering technology.
Officials say these schools should be replicated across the country.
Schools like P-Tech “help their students excel by implementing personalized learning for all students, rethinking the use of time during the school day to match student needs [and] assessing learning in ways that let students demonstrate mastery, creativity, and critical thinking,” Roberto Rodriguez, deputy assistant to the president, wrote in a blog post.
Still, he added, “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.”
Officials scheduled to attend Tuesday’s event include Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president; Megan Smith, the federal chief technology officer; John King, who will be taking over the post of Education secretary when Arne Duncan steps down; France Cordova, director of the National Science Foundation; and Tom Kalil, deputy director for technology and innovation at the Office of Science and Technology Policy.