High Tech High (HTH) gets a fair amount of attention as a successful and progressive school. The results of our efforts – our students – are often the source of this attention. Yet to truly understand the success of a High Tech High student, we must take a moment to understand where they come from and how that makes them different than students at other public, charter, or private schools.
I often hear people link High Tech High’s success to the the notion that we are working with “smart kids”. While at face value, I agree with that statement wholeheartedly, the insinuation can be misleading. High Tech High does not pre-screen students at all. Acceptance is based solely on a zip-code based lottery system in an effort to more closely match our student population to the demographics of San Diego County. Thus far, our efforts to match our country demographic have been quite successful with a free and reduced lunch population (a standard measure of financially disadvantaged students) hovering around 40% and our other demographic measures are equally on target.
Additionally, we do not track our kids. There is no “career tech” track or “community college” track. There is no “high level” math or “low level math”. There is no GATE, no special education. Our students, regardless of their current academic abilities, attend class together and 100% of them complete coursework that makes them are eligible to apply to the University of CA system. That means that the student work you see all over our schools is not the result of a privileged or talented few, but is in fact the work of all of our students, regardless of their level or demographic, collaborating together.