XQ Superschool Challenge Names ISA Team as a Finalist in the $50 million Competition

By Dr. Betty Greene-Bryant

Senior Program Director at ISA


Superschool movementEducation experts from the Institute for Student Achievement and Columbia University’s Teachers College formed and led a team to the final round of the XQ Superschool Project competition, a national contest funded by Laurene Powell Jobs with the goal of rethinking high schools. ISA’s proposal for the Minneapolis Collegiate STEM Academy (MCSA) was one of 348 selected from a pool of over 1000 submissions to compete in the final round. At least five teams will be selected to have their designs realized. Winning proposal teams will receive up to $10 million dollars over the next five years to develop their Superschool.

Minneapolis Collegiate STEM Academy (MCSA) will be a magnet high school committed to transforming the prevailing learning opportunity environment in high schools so that underperforming, low-income, minority students have access to high-end STEM education and career pathways — where, currently, Black and Latino students are profoundly underrepresented. The ISA team chose a public school district because, across the nation, it is public school districts which currently and will continue to predominate in the education of underperforming, low-income, minority students. We are determined to demonstrate that a public, district high school can provide a currently underserved segment of the population with a high quality education that will lead to college and high-end careers in a field where that population is dramatically underrepresented.

XQ Superschool badgeMCSA students will have multiple personalized opportunities to develop the intellectual, social, and cultural capital and agency to increase their access to STEM learning and careers. Instruction will be not test-driven or remedial; rather, students will demonstrate their learning and mastery though project products and authentic performances that promote deep learning, flow, expertise, and the pursuit of their passions so that they experience what it feels like to know something well. Through inquiry-based curriculum challenges and gamification, students will apply math, science, engineering, and technology to the solutions of social problems in their cultures, communities, and the world, so that they are relevant to their lives and reflect their passion. Blended and online learning, future-oriented courses such as 3-dimensional art, robotics and coding, and innovative uses of technology in projects that provide students with multiple and rich opportunities for deeper learning in STEM will be integral to the instructional program.

MCSA will partner with organizations such as the Science Museum of Minnesota on the development of STEM curriculum involving field work there; the Minnesota High Tech Association to involve high-end STEM career professionals and employers to develop mentorships and internships for MCSA students; the University of Minnesota and its STEM Education Center, and the Minneapolis Community and Technical College to develop dual enrollment courses; and MIT’s Education Arcade, Hofstra University Center for STEM Research, National Academy of Engineering, and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering to inform our instructional program and higher education and career guidance.

XQ SuperschoolBusThe MCSA team is comprised of the following members: Dr. Gerry House, Scott Noon, Vincent Brevetti, and Rita Hanes from ISA; Dr. Jacqueline Ancess and Dr. Fenot Aklog from Teachers College; ISA school principals Nancy Amling, Carolyn Quintana, and Courtney Winkfield; ISA teachers Caitlin Derousse and Achley Garcia; high school students Nick Armont, Fahruk Babalola, Seleste Estrada Orrego, Zachary Georges, and Randy Liriano; Dr. Cecilia Saddler from Minneapolis Public Schools; Dr. Joanna Gorin from the Educational Testing Service; Dr. Justin Reich of MIT’s Scheller Teacher Education Program; Dr. Michael Hacker, Co-director of the Center for Technological Literacy at Hofstra University; Michael Gonchar of the NY Times Learning Network; business leaders Mark Atkinson and Michael Glassman; and philanthropist, Beth Leventhal.

The winners of the XQ: Super School Project competition will be announced in August 2016.

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About the Institute for Student Achievement:
The Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) partners with schools and districts to transform public high schools so that students who are traditionally underserved and underperforming graduate prepared for success in college. Through this close partnership, ISA provides the organizational and professional development supports that schools, principals, and teachers need to succeed, giving students the opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve to their fullest potential. To learn more about ISA, visit //www.studentachievement.org/.

About XQ: The Super School Project:
XQ: The Super School Project launched in September 2015 as an open call to rethink
and redesign the American high school. Thousands of applicants and tens of thousands
of supporters from towns and cities across the country have united to take on this
important work. Teams of students, teachers, parents, community leaders and many
more came together to conceptualize innovative models for 21st century learning and
create a pathway to success for students.

Since its launch, XQ has proven to be more than a challenge to create innovative high
schools. It is a growing movement to reimagine what is possible for public education in
America, and a hub for community voices, cutting edge ideas, and expert resources to
make real change possible. For more information, visit www.xqsuperschool.org. Follow
us at @XQAmerica.