High school students in the West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) will soon be able to attend a
New Tech school, where project-based learning is the primary method of instruction.
On May 9th, the WDMCS Board of Education approved a district committee’s recommendation to expand the New Tech instructional model to ninth grade at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School in 2017-18. The district will expand the model to 10th grade at Valley High School in 2018-19, then to 11th grade in 2019-2020, and to 12th grade in 2020-21.
The New Tech Advisory Committee recommended using a “school-within-a-school” model, which establishes a smaller team of teachers and students within the larger school. For example, a portion of Valley Southwoods students and teachers would be organized around the New Tech model while the rest would remain using the traditional educational model.
This structure allows families to choose the model that best matches their student’s learning style. It also provides students who currently attend a New Tech school to continue with the model. Crestview School of Inquiry and Clive Learning Academy are full New Tech schools in the district and there is one seventh-grade team at each junior high school. Next year, there will also be one eighth-grade New Tech team at each junior high.
The committee agreed that the school-within-a-school model should be reviewed in five years by a representative stakeholder group.