ECISD Trustees voted Tuesday evening to make project-based learning a major project for the district.With unanimous approval at the board’s special meeting, Ector County Independent School District will now establish the state’s eighth New Tech High School. The schools, which started in Napa, Calif., in 1996, emphasize project based learning in small groups, with each student being issued a laptop computer to use while attending the school.Trustee Donnie Norwood, who visited a New Tech campus in Manor that ECISD considers a “model,” said he was impressed with the ability of the schools to graduate students and send them on to college. At the Manor school, located outside Austin, each member of its first graduating class last year went to college, with 82 percent going to four-year schools.“It really makes an impact on the kids I would call ‘at risk,’ ” Norwood said. “They really felt they were a part of the school. They were learning and it turned them around.”ECISD seeks to open the school, which will take up half of the Advanced Technical Center building, this fall. The ATC will remain open and actually be available for New Tech students to take elective classes.“The ATC will continue as it has been,” Randy Talley, ECISD executive director for special projects, said. “New Tech will be a completely different school within that building.”

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