Our Approach

Challenging Common Assumptions

For over 75 years most American schools have followed three critical operating instructions that are so ingrained in the culture by now as to seem natural:
  • Segregate students by class, race, gender, language ability, or perceived academic ability.
  • Isolate adolescents from the adult world they are about to enter.
  • Separate academic from technial teaching and learning.

High Tech High schools overturn these tenets by admitting students through a blind, zip code-based lottery and grouping them heterogeneously, engaging students in the adult world of work through fieldwork and internships, and integrating hands, hearts and minds through rigorous, hands-on projects. In turn, the GSE prepares educators both to design and to assume leadership in programs with a parallel commitment to equity, rigor, and relevance for all students. Rather than creating more schools like High Tech High, GSE students are encouraged to use our clinical sites as a context for learning ~ an opportunity to take risks, reflect on their practice and over time shape their own vision for effective teaching, learning and leadership.

Leading with Innovative Practice

The GSE is the first graduate school of education to emerge from and be fully embedded within a charter school network of innovative, project-based schools. Like the 12 High Tech High K-12 schools that serve as clinical sites for our graduate students, the GSE is committed to providing learning experiences that are personalized, authentic, and transformative. Our graduate students create personal learning plans, pursue a project-based curriculum, explore their own questions through rigorous inquiry, and develop digital portfolios to demonstrate their learning. GSE students learn by doing and have ample opportunities to explore the intersection of theory and practice and reflect on their learning. Just as we expect surgeons to have hands-on experience in their residencies, GSE provides its graduate students with practical experience in the real world of effective, innovative schools. 

Designing for Social Justice

Many educators know of High Tech High because of its focus on project-based learning, but fewer understand that it was founded as an equity experiment in social class integration. Working to fulfill the unrealized promise of Brown v. Board of Education, declaring "separate as inherently unequal", the High Tech High K-12 schools were designed to provide access and challenge to all students within a diverse learning environment. From the design of each school to the design of each learning experience, HTH educators bring a critical equity lens to their work to address historical and systemic oppression impacting disadvantaged students. Through progressive pedagogy focused on deeper learning, students have voice & choice in their learning and an authentic purpose & audience for their work outside of school. In turn, graduate students in the GSE examine the connections between equity and design in their practice and develop effective leadership skills to support their colleagues in shaping schools that are both innovative and equitable.

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HTH Graduate School of Education  •  2855 Farragut Road, San Diego, CA 92106  •  (619) 398-4902