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EPISD part of new initiative to improve college access

Gates New Tech grant in EPISD

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT Sept. 17, 2019) — EPISD is part of a new multi-district initiative from the New Tech Network to improve college access through improved science practices.

The initiative, which is set to last for several years and will benefit several schools throughout EPISD, is supported by a Networks for School Improvement.

“The purpose of this work is to collect and analyze data, identify new ideas and implement specific changes to all schools involved in order develop and share best practices for college access to students,” said Scott Gray, EPISD’s New Tech director. “Specifically, the program hopes to improve outcomes for African-American, Latino and low-income students.” 

New Tech Network has invited six EPISD high schools to participate in its first cohort. This includes juniors and seniors at El Paso, Austin, Chapin, Andress, Irvin and Burges high schools.

Although only two of the six EPISD schools that will participate in the program implement the New Tech curriculum, the initiative is meant to improve teaching and learning throughout the District.   

“The goal is to help close the attainment gap for all students in the District, not just those enrolled in New Tech programs,” Gray said.

Every junior and senior in the participating schools will have access to Naviance — a comprehensive college and career readiness solution and software that helps districts and schools align student strengths and interests to postsecondary goals, improving student outcomes and connecting learning to life. 

Comal ISD in Central Texas and Ector County ISD in the Permian Basin are the other two districts that were selected to participate in the program. EPISD will work with educators there to identify and address common problems that impact students in pursuing and succeeding in college.  

“Our ongoing partnership with New Tech Network and this new opportunity to collaborate with other Texas districts benefits our community in two key ways: Not only are we adopting improvement science to directly support students who might not otherwise get to, and succeed in college, but our school teams are learning valuable methods that can be used for a variety of complex challenges,” said Superintendent Juan Cabrera. “We owe it to our community to design new approaches based on well-established methods in our quest to meet each student’s needs.”

New Tech will be supplying a coach for the campuses involved and create space for all three districts to communicate and network. Each high school will have a designated team identified by their principals to support this work. 

And while the first cohort participating in this program includes only six of the 10 traditional and two specialized high schools in the District, Gray said a second cohort could include all high-schools in EPISD. EPISD hopes to include all high schools in the second cohort.

 

Story by Reneé de Santos
Photo by Leonel Monroy