Letters to the Editor

U.S. News rankings are wrong about our school, say students at Nipomo’s New Tech High

Our learning system is unique

I was recently enlightened by your article “U.S. News ranked the top high schools in the country. Here’s how SLO County stacks up.” In reading it, I was surprised by Central Coast New Tech’s ranking which, in my opinion, was incorrect.

As a senior here at New Tech, I can verify that our school graduation rate is not 98% but in fact 100%. Along with that, a lot of the data used to make the comparison between us and the other schools are the AP standard, which New Tech is not a part of. We should not be negatively ranked or represented just because of our unique learning system, so we would very much appreciate it if the data was reanalyzed and our rank reconsidered because we, as a school, are much better than the recognition currently being bestowed.

Haley Calderon, Lompoc

Rankings have ‘credibility issue’

I am a graduating senior from New Tech High School in Nipomo, and I would like to respond to your article, “U.S. News Ranked the Top High Schools in the country. Here’s How SLO County Stacks Up.”

In my opinion, the magazine’s ranking system has a serious credibility issue because it lumps the nation’s high schools together for comparison, despite their vast differences in size, missions, etc., and therefore paints the school that I and my classmates love in a very negative light.

New Tech is a very small, non-traditional high school, two of the main reasons I chose to go there, with a focus on project-based learning and a strong emphasis on collaboration and written and oral communication — skills that I know are more important for a successful career in today’s highly competitive and tech-focused workforce than traditional academic courses.

I started out at New Tech as an extremely shy and awkward freshman and, now, as a graduating senior, I have dozens of presentations — both individual and group — under my belt, and, after every project presentation, I became more confident, empowered, and challenged to succeed in my career.

Nora Jensen, Arroyo Grande

Rankings got it wrong

Our education system is changing. I wish that our ranking systems changed too. I am a proud Direwolf, graduating this year from Central Coast New Tech High. I am moving on to UCLA, and that wouldn’t be possible without the opportunities and academic environment offered here.

I have been exposed to college-level classes since my sophomore year, and will be graduating from high school with 30 college credits. Besides, I’ve gotten leadership opportunities and witnessed how we impact our local community.

I was disheartened to find that high school rankings, as reported by The Tribune on May 9, fail to take into account access to college classes, dual enrollment, leadership and real-world applications. AP classes undeniably are valuable to a school, but so are other enrichment opportunities.

At Central Coast New Tech, students are involved in college-level work both through dual enrollment and close access to community college courses. This allows some students to graduate an entire year early if they desire.

We have strongly independent and hardworking students here, who understand how to ask questions and apply knowledge to individual pursuits. In my experience, this is the culmination of a high school experience: feeling empowered to enter postsecondary education with a sense of knowledge and independence.

Zoe Curran, Arroyo Grande

More praise for New Tech High

As a student at Central Coast New Tech High School, I was dismayed to see our school misrepresented in The Tribune’s article on high school rankings. The quantitative model that U.S. News and World Report uses in ranking high schools disadvantages New Tech High in a number of areas; notably, in the realm of advanced placement classes.

New Tech High focuses instead on a flexible, project-based college prep curriculum, which provides real-world applications for topics AP classes cover. This style may benefit some students who struggle with conventional classes or need college and career preparation; but U.S. News glosses over the subjective in their rankings and focuses solely on their chosen metrics.

This hurts New Tech High in the long run as a result. We are a school of choice; students must choose to come here because it may provide a more enriching education for them. By emphasizing data-based rankings as a dogmatic ideal of superiority, subjectivity and nuance in choice is lost. This leads the student to prioritize rank over compatibility with their own way of learning. According to those rankings, our divergence from the educational status quo is our greatest weakness instead of our greatest strength, thus harming the students who could benefit most from Central Coast New Tech High.

Jordan Bates, Arroyo Grande

More kudos for New Tech High

Both Zoe Curran and Jordan Bates provide convincing testimony to the effectiveness of the education at Central Coast New Tech High School, where they are students. They provide cogent argument regarding the standards for judging the school’s curriculum and, significantly, they display superior writing skills in presenting it.

Craig Dingman, San Luis Obispo

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