HomeNewsXQ: The Super School Project looks to innovate U.S. high school

XQ: The Super School Project looks to innovate U.S. high school


Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8Fv3QmsYQk

The commercial for Project XQ. Jessica Williams, comedian, advocates for the project in an astronaut suit, representing the tech-based intentions of XQ.

On September 11, the submissions box opened for XQ: The Super School Project. The project, started and funded by Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, hopes to reinvent the average American high school. The project is actually a competition: Self-assembled teams will research unmet student educational needs and plan a “super school” to address problems found.

On the XQ website, there are already many issues presented through statistics:  74% of high school students are not prepared for college in at least one subject. 31% are not prepared for college in any subject. Teams in the competition must design a new school with different physical or educational components that combat these statistics. The similarities and differences between the created “super school” and traditional high school are up to the teams themselves.

There are a few set requirements for completing a proposal for a “super school,” however. Once a team has identified the realities of their community’s education system, they must create a mission statement for the school, identify the learning essentials and explain how they believe the school must empower and motivate the students to learn. The next step is to tackle all of the logistics: human capital and training, budget, governance, performance management/evaluation and implementation.

According to Mr. Price, a Leesville Assistant Principal, the project’s success lies in the success of the submissions. “To me this appears to be a funding/vetting program for something similar to charter schools. While I’m not opposed to the idea of charter schools, endless data shows that they are only as successful as a) the proposed plan, and b) those carrying out the plan,” said Price.

As the competition’s prize is $50 million, it is clear that Jobs has placed a lot of faith in the hands of the future winners. The money is to be used to create the school, and the project’s board anticipates a plan that will successfully crack the code of the new innovative high school.

However, moves have already been made to redefine traditional high schools. For example, high schools with built-in trade academies serve as a valid alternative, so much so that Mr. Price believes this model would influence his own “super school”. “I think it’s empowering for students to graduate not only with a high school diploma, but also with licensure/certification in a trade. Many of the trade students could immediately enter the workforce and be competitive after graduation,” said Price.

Whether teams come from California or North Carolina, there is a common thread connecting them all: Submissions will strive to reinvent what it means to learn in America. Hopefully, as the winning plan comes to fruition, the goals of the school will as well.

The first drafts of school concepts are due November 15. The winners will be announced in August of 2016.




  1. Ok..so that was excessive please excise 90% to get simply a long response rather than a soapbox rant. :-0)

    Ohhh…Jessica Williams ROCKS and just looks great in that space suit!

  2. As a Special Education teacher of seriously “at risk” students in Washington DC I can’t possibly support this initiative enough. So many of our kids simply don’t feel that the way education is presented and subjects taught have any relevance in their lives and simply getting them to read anything is a challenge. I use their phones and have them add Open Office or Google Docs so that I can send them work that they can complete and mail back to me through Google or upload into a Dropbox account I have set up. I’ve gotten much better buy in with this than simple paper/pencil assignments.

    I come from a background of classical private schools, in the same circle that the children of the Presidents, ambassadors, members of Congress, and local Industrial leaders attended. It was the best educational opportunity that money could buy and I will be forever grateful for the sacrifices my parents accepted to ensure that I was given this education. It wasn’t until college that I realized that not only did every child not get the same education but that many children right here in the Nation’s Capitol were given literally nothing to learn with that the teachers did not provide.
    I was so moved during a visit to Cardoza HS in 1987 that I knew I had to do something. Sitting on a wall of their terraced athletic fields I could see the Capital building. It is close enough that if you put your hand up you could almost put it in your palm like a can of soda..it dominates the view. I could also see across the Potomac river the apartment buildings I lived in when we first moved to Virginia. Here I was at a beautiful building dating from sometime between the 30s and 50s with solid wood and 12 foot high ceilings and wall to wall windows…and plumbing that didn’t work no air conditioning…(but a great overhead fan system)…and no textbook that I saw that was less than ten years old. (The US Government book they were using said th as t Richard Nixon was still President.) There was nothing in the teacher supply room, not even chalk for the boards. Teachers supplied the students with everything they had as far as paper, pencils, and any kind of supplies for ptojects.
    Sitting on that wall made me realize that I heard my calling. I needed to “pay it forward”, so to speak. I had been blessed and needed to try to give to those kids who had the least some of what I had been given as a child. So I have spent the last 18 years working with this student population trying to give back to my city. I wanted the “City of Magnification Intentions” to give opportunities not not only to the rich and privileged but to everybody.

    It pains me in my soul to have to say that while I think we have made some progress clearly things are not working. We really need to reevaluate what subjects we teach our kids, how we teach them, and determine what role technology can play.

    Something that I pray these program developers consider is the communities these kids are coming from and that they do not try to create a one size fits all “Super School”. Vocational training and the Arts must be a part of this system as well as athletics. Somehow…all these brilliant minds working on this project need to squeeze all this in….then figure out how to include parenting classes, substance abuse and avoidance classes, life skills training (to include parents), and real world financial planning classes to teach students (and parents) about money. We are not going to solve the problems we face teaching our children until we realize how the role of the schools has changed and we involve ourselves more in the communities that are children cone from. Reality is th as t we need to educate not only our kids but their parents too half the time.
    Good luck with this project. Please remember those who have nothing…but God given potential. Possibly you will be more successful at being able to bring relevance back to school if you do. God bless.


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