High Tech High (CTE & ROCP)

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High Tech High is an integrated network of schools spanning grades K-12, and located in San Diego County, that aims to create an environment where students and teachers can work and learn effectively. High Tech High emphasizes connecting its students to the adult world through "real world" internships, and has enabled traditionally underserved students access to college and other post-secondary options.

Thank you to Ben Daley, who serves as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Academic Officer at High Tech High, for sharing this information about the High Tech High ROP program.

CCSA: How many ROP instructors do you have?

Ben Daley: We have five and a half (FTE) instructors who are funded by ROP, including their benefits. These positions are technically employees of San Diego Unified School District, since the ROP funding is channeled through the district. However, our ROP instructors are fully integrated, meaning that they are on our campus full-time, attend faculty meetings, etc. The parents and students do not know the difference between a HTH-funded instructor and an ROP-funded instructor.

When I say that we have five and a half salaries paid for through the ROP Program, we have more than five and a half instructors teaching ROP classes. These employees are part-funded by ROP and part-funded by HTH. That helps with the integration that I was describing earlier. The main reason that we do this is we have small class sizes, a different number of school days than the district and longer classes, which means that we only teach four periods a day. Under the ROP Program, each instructor is supposed to generate a certain amount of ADA. Due to the fact that HTH is operating differently than a traditional public school, the five and a half instructors would not generate enough ADA for a full-time position, which is why we spread the ROP funding among more instructors.

CCSA: How long has High Tech High been operating an ROP Program?

Ben Daley: Seven years. We started operating an ROP Program as soon as we could. During our first two years, we only served ninth and tenth graders, and ROP is only available once students turn sixteen. Once we started serving juniors we were able to operate an ROP Program.

CCSA: What is the population that High Tech High serves?

BEN DALEY: Our FRL count is around 32 percent. Our ELL population is approximately one percent. Each of our three high schools chartered by SDUSD has between 400 and 550 students.

CCSA: What impact did the ROP program have on your school? (What problems did it solve/solutions did it provide?)

Ben Daley: HTH follows the philosophy that we should be a place where students are using their hands and their minds. The San Diego Unified School District's ROP Program has provided the money to do what we had planned to do anyway.

Traditionally, low-income, minority students are shuttled off to ROP on some branch campus. Our ROP program turns that tradition on its head. We offer ROP classes like digital design and media, engineering, biotechnology and principles of technology, which are all A-G approved. Plus, the students are taking college-prep classes, and not lower level English and math classes, because they apply the Geometry and Algebra that they learn to the work they do in ROP.

CCSA: What do you need from the Association and the Legislature around the ROP issues?

Ben Daley: We want to legislatively do something so that the ROP money would go directly to charter schools; direct funding for ROP is needed. We need to free up the money to access it directly, just like we did with SPED funds. If we could access this funding ourselves, we would start our own program.

CCSA: One charter school that I recently spoke with is planning to partner with a local career college to offer some ROP classes, independent of the district. Is this something that HTH has considered?

Ben Daley: Not yet, but if a charter schools is able to get some funding to start a partnership like this, we'd be interested in participating as well.

CCSA: Is there anything else that you think I should know or would like to tell me?

Ben Daley: ROP has amazing potential that many people, including teachers of traditional subjects, don't realize. It's no longer a program where students are doing narrow skills training like woodwork off to the side of a high school campus. That's misdiagnosing what students are going to spend their lives doing and not preparing them for the real working world that they will enter after high school. Rather, ROP is about instructing students in a way so that they are both college and career ready, which is what we want for all kids.

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