NAPA -- New Tech Network today announced it will expand by three dozen new middle and high schools schools this year, adding to 115 schools in 18 states already using the Napa-based nonprofit's project-based learning methods.

The added schools include more New York City Department of Education "iZone" locations, the network's first programs in middle schools and its first international school, to be located in Australia. The program will be opening at American Canyon Middle School this year and is already being used at American Canyon High School and New Technology High School in Napa.

"With this record-setting number of new schools joining the network, we will be preparing more than 40,000 students for success after high school," said Lydia Dobyns, president of New Tech. "We are grateful to district and state leaders in 18 states who have selected New Tech Network as their partner to re-imagine teaching and learning. The diversity of schools in our network proves that relevant and rigorous education is within reach for communities everywhere, including public, charter and parochial schools."

New Tech Network works (www.newtechnetwork.org) with local school districts, principals, teachers and communities on a "transformative approach to learning." Teachers in the program design rigorous, real-world projects tied to state standards deeply integrated with technology to create a learning environment that is relevant and engaging for students.

“Bulldog Tech will open in the fall of 2012 with 150 seventh grade students and a wait list of nearly 50,” said Kathy Gomez, superintendent of Evergreen School District, which has the first network school in Silicon Valley. "The response of our community to technology embedded, project based learning has been outstanding."

First introduced in Napa in 1996, the New Tech model has proven successful across diverse student populations in urban, rural and suburban public high schools.

Sixty percent of the 115 existing schools are in their first or second year with the New Tech model, according to the organization. In the 2010--11 school year, annual graduation rates for reporting New Tech schools was 97 percent, according to the organization. New Tech students tracked from freshmen through senior year graduated at a rate of 86 percent, compared with the national average of 69 percent reported in the study "Diplomas Count 2010."