National Program Recognition from Project Lead the Way
BVT is the only distinguished school in New England to achieve this honor two years in a row – March 23, 2019
We found a perfect partnership with Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a nonprofit organization that provides transformative learning experiences for our students and teachers by empowering them to develop in-demand, transportable knowledge and skills through computer science and engineering pathways and recently brought another accolade to our school.
PLTW recently recognized BVT as a 2018-2019 Project Lead the Way Distinguished High School for its commitment to increasing student access, engagement, and achievement in their programs. There were only 67 high schools in the country to earn the distinguished school designation. Out of those 67, our school was 1 of just 34 schools in the country to earn the award consecutively. In fact, we are the only school in New England to earn the designation for the 2018-2019 school year.
“While the distinction is given to the school, it's truly the students who have earned this accolade. They are the ones who are engaging with the curriculum, producing incredible projects, and showcasing their talents at various venues throughout the Commonwealth and even the country. Their success with the curriculum and the end-of-course assessments from PLTW have translated into incredible achievements in VEX robotics and SkillsUSA competitions,” said Vocational Director Dr. Matthew Connors. “This confirms that what they are learning in the classroom is meaningful, relevant and applicable to the real-world, and that serves as validation for us as a learning organization.”
To be eligible for this designation, we had to meet the following criteria: offer at least three PLTW courses; of those who participated in PLTW, at least 33 percent took two or more PLTW courses during their high school tenure; and at least 70 percent of students were required to earn a proficient or advanced score on PLTW End-of-Course (EoC) Assessments.
Conner Christensen, a senior from Mendon in the Engineering & Robotics program speaks highly of PLTW. He says, “Taking these PLTW courses throughout high school has provided me with some great exposure to the various disciplines of engineering. They helped me discover what I liked and didn't like, which ultimately made my decision of choosing a major a lot easier. These courses also afforded me applicable industry related knowledge as well as taught me invaluable soft skills such as collaboration and problem solving which will be beneficial wherever life takes me.”
Our school currently offers six PLTW courses in Engineering and has implemented the computer science pathway in our Information Technology program. The second of four courses in that pathway will be offered this fall with the other two courses to be rolled out in consecutive school years.
Engineering & Robotics instructor Brian Rhodes loves PLTW. He explains, “PLTW provides a rigorous platform in which our students learn our Engineering Curriculum. We then utilize the amazing facilities here to implement the hands on aspect of each project based learning activity. Historically, 82.5 percent of our PLTW students earn top scores on the program’s End-of-Course Assessments, which allows those students who have passed minimum requirements the unique opportunity to obtain college credit for their PLTW courses. This is a huge head start on their path towards achieving their career goals in Engineering.”
Locally, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) supports and accepts PLTW courses. Current WPI students who completed a PLTW engineering course in high school and met the end-of-course exam requirements are eligible for WPI undergraduate credit, free of charge.
Zoe Mahoney, a senior from Sutton in the Engineering & Robotics program can already see PLTW courses paying off. Mahoney was one of five applicants to WPI to receive the $20,000 PLTW scholarship. Her technical educational experience through PLTW has been both enriching and inspiring. She says, “As the second graduating class in this rigorous program, I have seen hands-on experiences within the classroom setting grow from traditional teaching styles to a collaborative center of innovation and technology. All of this has led to many opportunities including robotics club, community outreach, and other career-oriented extracurricular activities. The technical skills in shop combined with the challenging concepts have deepened my understanding in academic classes allowing me to further my success. It has also given me invaluable skills such as a creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration - ultimately, allowing me to think outside the box when solving real-world problems to bring forward real-world solutions.”
With the continued success of the PLTW curriculum, our students develop skills that they will use in school and for the rest of their lives, on any career path they choose to pursue.