At nex+Gen Academy, it is our mission “To create a community where learning and global citizenship are cultivated to develop future leaders.” In order to lead in the modern age, our students must emerge from school knowledgeable in the core content areas and the arts, but they must also act as curious individuals, who can communicate well, collaborate effectively, and take initiative to get things done. For that reason, we formally teach, assess, and grade students against a set of skills that we believe are imperative for their success. Namely, we focus on:
· Content Knowledge
· Agency (a measure of how the learner demonstrates strategies and habits that indicate a growth mindset and ownership of one’s learning)
· Inquiry & Analysis
We use assessment rubrics (influenced by both the New Tech Network Rubrics and the American Association of Colleges and Universities VALUE rubrics) for these learning outcomes across all courses in our school. Transcript grades for a course reflect not only the student’s level of mastery of the course content but also their performance on the four additional learning outcomes identified above.
To efficiently teach the content and the skills embodied by our other learning outcomes, we employ Project based learning and Problem based learning. Students address complex, “real world” problems often in the context of collaborative group work, and must apply all those skills to bring about the successful completion of a project. However, while group work on projects is common, it is not universal. We hold individual students accountable for their own learning through individual assignments, clearly defined role expectations within group assignments, and through traditional testing and other assessment measures.
In order to increase the authenticity and relevance of project work, we have at least two systemic mechanisms. First, we strive to create cross-curricular projects. To that end, at all grade levels, Social Studies and English are integrated into “Humanities” courses. We have a selection of other integrated courses at the 9th and 12th grade levels as well. Second, understanding that technology tools are an integral part of most occupations and higher education experiences, we assign a laptop to each student at the school. However, the laptop is not meant to be a substitute teacher. Rather, it is used as a tool in much the same way that professionals use their devices to accomplish tasks at work. We teach our students how to best leverage that technology to meet their goals.
This model of school – with learning outcomes, Project Based Learning, integration of classes & utilization of technology - is based upon the model created by the New Tech Network (NTN), of which we are part. Further, our school serves as a National Demonstration Site for NTN, providing an example for visitors who wish to understand the New Tech Model.
Our goal is to effectively prepare all students for college and career, be that admission to a university, vocational education, direct entry into the workplace or service in the armed forces. Nex+Gen Academy is a School of Choice in the Albuquerque Public School District. Admission is non-selective and open to all students through a lottery process. Our curriculum supports rigorous academic expectations with all students taking 4 years each of math, science, social studies, and English. Students also may participate in a 40 hr mentorship in their junior year. All seniors engage in Senior Project, a year-long, passion-driven project requiring them to seek out a mentor, write a research paper, engage in work that benefits the larger community, and finally present their learning at year-end to a panel of community members. We also expect students, by graduation, to have taken at least 2 dual credit courses through the local university and/or community college and 2 years of a foreign language.