Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions from Potential Student/Parents:

What is NewTech@Mann?

NewTech@Mann is a “school within a school” on the campus of J. L. Mann High School that offers
students project-based learning, student-led culture, and one-on-one technology. For further information, please see this page and this helpful brochure.

How do I know if NewTech@Mann is a good fit for my student?

Review the characteristics of a successful New Tech student: critical thinker, self-starter, independent learner, collaborator, respectful citizen, and college- or career-focused. Also, a successful New Tech student should be Algebra-ready by their freshman year. If this sounds like your student, your family should put serious consideration to NewTech@Mann.

Does NewTech@Mann prepare students for college and other post-high school opportunities?

Yes, for both college-bound and career-bound students. NewTech@Mann emphasizes learning how to solve real-life problems with a team, and the skills students learn at NewTech@Mann will help them succeed in any environment they choose to pursue. 

Do NewTech@Mann students have the opportunity to participate in sports, clubs, or other extracurricular activities?

Yes, New Tech students are eligible to participate in any J. L. Mann High School activity as an attendance area student or accepted magnet student. J. L. Mann High School course electives are also available to NewTech@Mann students, allowing NewTech@Mann students to pursue Fine Arts courses or extra AP coursework they may have an interest in.

Are there any costs to attending NewTech@Mann?

There is a $25 rental agreement for the New Tech device issued to students so they may have insurance coverage for the device while at school and at home.  Other fees that all J. L. Mann High School students pay include their class dues each year.

How is a NewTech@Mann classroom different from a traditional high school classroom?

To facilitate the project-based learning model (PBL) the students are physically grouped in the classroom as opposed to sitting in rows. Students (learners) follow a PBL plan for every project which follows this general progression: the project is introduced through a driving question; learners determine what they need to know; teachers (facilitators) organize needed activities for learning; facilitator-led and peer-led assessments are conducted to determine learner understanding; content-oriented workshops are provided by facilitators; learners formally present their conclusions; learner conclusions are peer- and facilitator-reviewed.

My student has an IEP or 504 Plan. Can the student still attend NewTech@Mann?

Any attendance area student or accepted magnet student may be considered for enrollment in NewTech@Mann, including students with an IEP or 504 Plan. Freshmen students entering New Tech should be ready to study Algebra 1. Annual IEP meetings will be conducted for NewTech@Mann students, just as they are for J. L. Mann High School IEP students. Students needing a Tutorial class will be scheduled in Tutorial during elective periods. Students with disabilities will be assigned to the NewTech@Mann program according to the lottery selection process, just like any other student applicant.

Does NewTech@Mann cover the same state standards as J. L. Mann High School and other high 
schools in South Carolina?

Yes, NewTech@Mann is a public school that meets as a school-within-a-school on J. L. Mann High School’s campus. NewTech@Mann is required to meet all state standards as part of J. L. Mann High School. The NewTech@Mann teachers spend considerable time developing relevant projects that align with the state standards. Students are individually evaluated on their mastery of these standards as part of each project they complete or problem they solve.

Are there tests and quizzes in NewTech@Mann?

Yes. While most of the learning in New Tech schools occurs within the context of group collaboration, students are still held accountable for their own understanding of the content taught in each course. Assessment of individual understanding can take many forms, including traditional tests and quizzes.

Do NewTech@Mann students have homework?

Yes. Whether it is a portion of a project that needs to be completed for an upcoming milestone, a reading assignment, or practice problems, students at NewTech@Mann sometimes have to complete work outside of the classroom.

If someone in my group doesn’t do his part of a project, will it hurt my grade?

Possibly, but it shouldn’t. Most projects and problems are assessed using a variety of measures including group evaluation. For this reason, we start all projects and problems with group contracts. These are written agreements between group members that outline how the group will operate, who will be responsible for each task, and what will happen when someone doesn’t do their share of the work. While the goal is always to have every member of a group do his or her part, these contracts allow groups to “fire” reluctant learners. Students who get fired have to complete all work for their project on their own.

Will NewTech@Mann students graduate with J. L. Mann High School students?

Yes. Our first NewTech@Mann class will graduate with NewTech@Mann disctinction in June, 2017, with the J. L. Mann High School Class of 2017.

Can NewTech@Mann students take elective classes like band or JROTC at J. L. Mann High School?

Yes, NT@M students may choose any elective available at J. L. Mann High School.

Can NewTech@Mann students take AP and Dual Course Credit courses?

Yes. AP and Dual Credit courses are built into the New Tech curriculum pathways. New Tech students may also take additional J. L. Mann High School AP courses as electives.

Can students transfer out of New Tech @ Mann once school starts?

Yes, after the first year. Transfers from NewTech@Mann to J. L. Mann traditional classes are significantly restricted and require the approval of both the New Tech Director and the J. L. Mann High School Principal. Students are asked to make a four-year commitment to New Tech because once students become accustomed to the New Tech learning model it is difficult for those students to move back to the traditional model employed by J. L. Mann High School; the curriculum pathways are also significantly different and it is difficult for a student to remain on track to graduate on time and still satisfy diploma requirements if they change programs. However if, after completing the first year, the family, the Director, and the Principal determine that the student is better placed in a traditional learning model it is possible to transfer to traditional classes at J. L. Mann High School.

We respect that some people may find that project-based learning is not their preferred learning style, but we require that all students, once accepted into New Tech, spend a full year working in it before deciding to leave. We require this for three primary reasons: 1) the beginning of the first year can be stressful for some students and we don’t want anyone to make a rash decision they come to regret later; 2) our program is unique in the way courses are integrated and sequenced and it is very difficult to translate those courses to a traditional curriculum; and 3) we believe there is value in teaching students to keep a commitment. There is nothing quite like the pride and self-confidence a student gains when they have accomplished something that was truly difficult or different for them.

How are business and community partners involved with NewTech@Mann?

NewTech@Mann is always seeking business partners to work with our students. Business partners are integral to assisting students with solving real-world problems, completing internships, and assessing final projects. If you know of a local business or community organization interested in working with students in this manner please refer them to the New Tech Director. Current partners include Young Office, Koyo Bearings North America, United Way, Women in Engineering and others.

Frequently Asked Questions from Current Students/Parents:

How do parents get access to ECHO?

Parents who need access to ECHO simply need to complete this form and your account credentials will be sent to you shortly after.

I signed up for ECHO, but have not received my account information.  Is there a problem?

Please allow up to two business days for your account to be created.  It is possible that your account information has already been sent and was filtered as junk mail or spam, depending on your email provider.  Please check in those folders before resubmitting.

What can parents see in ECHO?

In ECHO, under a parent account, you can see the student’s current grades in great detail, the individual activities they are working on, and daily agendas.  If you already have an account, this manual will help you begin using ECHO.

What do I need to do so that my student can take their laptop home?

Parents must come in for a face-to-face meeting with the Director and the Instructional Tech and agree to and satisfy the $25 rental agreement prior to students being allowed to take the device home. Also, students must ensure that they have a passing agency grade in all classes prior to being allowed to take the device home.

I paid for my student to take their laptop home, but they are still being told they cannot. Why?

If you have already met with us and satisfied the rental agreement, your student may not have a passing agency grade in one of their classes.  You would need to explore their grades in ECHO and consult with the teacher who documented the issue with agency.

Can students do their work on any home computer, or must it be their student laptop?

Students can work on and submit their assignments using any computer that is connected to the internet.  They have the ability to complete and submit all their work online.

I need help understanding the grading system of New Tech.  How are students assessed?

Student grades are calculated using measures from several areas called learning outcomes.  This page reviews what each area is and how it is measured.  For more info on grades, you may find this ECHO manual helpful.

Should I be looking at my student’s grades in the parent portal or in ECHO?

We are asking all NewTech@Mann parents to seek out their student’s most recent grades in ECHO and not in the parent portal.  We use ECHO on a regular basis and only export a snapshot of the student’s grades to the parent portal at progress report time and at the end of each nine weeks grading period.