10/02/2014 12:33 pm ET Updated Dec 02, 2014

Future Success Can Be Taught

Study shows students can graduate high school with the skills needed for success.

Much has been written on what goes beyond student test scores and grades -- see my post last year called: "Soft Skills are 'Hard as a Rock.'" Findings from a new research study published by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) offer compelling evidence that students attending schools in the Deeper Learning Network (DLN) achieve greater and more consistent outcomes than students in comparison schools. The AIR report shows that students participating in educational opportunities that demand critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, innovation and problem solving skills graduate on time and thrive in four-year colleges.

As a member of the Deeper Learning Network and a participant in the AIR study, New Tech Network (NTN) schools help students develop the Deeper Learning skills necessary for success in post-secondary pursuits. NTN student outcome data offers further evidence that this type of teaching and learning leads to graduating students ready for the next step in career development for today's global economy.

For example, in the 2014 Student Outcomes Report, NTN demonstrated that students:

● Graduate from high school at a rate 14 percent higher than the national average.
● Enroll in college at a rate 9 percent higher than the national average.
● Persist in college at a rate of 83 percent.

These outcomes align with the AIR study findings for students across DLN schools:

● HIGHER GRADUATION RATES: Students who attend DLN schools graduated on time at statistically significant higher rates.

● MORE GRADUATES ATTEND 4-YEAR COLLEGE: After graduation, students who attended network schools were more likely to attend a four-year college and enroll in more selective institutions.

● BETTER TEST SCORES: Students who attended network schools achieved higher standardized test scores on both state assessments and an OECD PISA-based test. These assessments measure core content knowledge and complex problem solving skills.

● STRONGER INTERPERSONAL AND INTRAPERSONAL SKILLS: Students who attended network schools reported higher levels of academic engagement, collaboration skills, motivation to learn and self-efficacy.

● GREATER OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN: While in school, students who attended network schools benefited from greater opportunities for Deeper Learning through practices such as project-based learning, internship opportunities, and longer-term cumulative assessments.

● EQUITABLE OPPORTUNITIES AND OUTCOMES: Attending a network school benefited diverse groups of students regardless of their background or whether they resided in a rural, urban or suburban district. Regardless of background or incoming achievement levels, students who attended network schools realized the same positive Deeper Learning outcomes.

The AIR study can act as a rallying cry for educators and policymakers. This is compelling evidence that investing in Deeper Learning practices can benefit all students, no matter their economic status or their prior education level. This is more than good news and deserves our attention at a time when far too often the headlines speak to what's wrong in public education.