The need to transform learning to meet the needs of 21st century young people exists in every community and among every type of students. But within that larger goal, there are groups of students who face particular challenges and obstacles in the search for an engaging, rewarding learning experience. One group that is underserved by the current educational system is Hispanic youth.
In California, Texas, Florida and New York Hispanic children make up 25 percent of the school age population. The rest of the country is not far behind. Yet, only a little more than half of those Hispanic students earn a high school diploma. An even smaller percentage graduates from college.
It was to help meet the needs of that rapidly growing group of students that Pearson Education brought together leading Hispanic educators in October 2006 to form the Hispanic Leadership Council on Education (HLC). The Council brings together administrators from major school districts around the country to discuss and plan strategies for transforming education for Hispanic youth.
A Nationwide Partnership
Since its formation, the Pearson Foundation and the New Learning Institute has worked closely with the Council to help it pursue its goals. Each year, starting in 2006, NLI has hosted a professional development workshop in New Orleans for teachers invited by the HLC. At the two-day workshop, the teachers produce digital films, learning the same step-by-step approach that students follow in an NLI classroom residency. They also attend talks and workshops about the latest in digital media and technology and hear about innovative ways to integrate these technologies into classroom curriculum.
Many of the teachers who have attended the New Orleans workshop later hosted NLI residencies in their schools. Districts in Chicago, Las Vegas, Glendale and Coachella Valley, California, Garland, Texas and Halifax, Virginia have all invited NLI teams into their classrooms. In each district, NLI has also held local professional development workshops, equipping even more with training innovative new approaches to project-based learning.
For example, in Las Vegas in 2009, thanks to the efforts of the HLC, the New Learning Institute held residencies in five schools that served over 900 students. Meanwhile, NLI held professional development workshops for over 80 faculty members. As a result of the NLI-HLC partnership, in 2009 several hundred Chicago-area students were able to take part in NLI residencies, while over 70 teachers received professional development training. And in the same year, in Glendale California NLI held six classroom residencies and in Garland, Texas, there were 10.
Transforming Education Together
Thanks to the NLI-HLC partnership, thousands of students across the nation have had the opportunity to take part in innovative and enriching learning experiences they might otherwise not have had. Hundreds of teachers have learned new approaches to integrating technology into core curriculum subjects and taken part in the unique NLI project-based learning method. The New Learning Institute is committed to continuing the work of this partnership in transforming education for a new generation of students.