‘P-Tech’ Academic Model Taken Statewide in New York

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A high school in Brooklyn, N.Y., that goes to unusual lengths to pair students with employers and job opportunities is being replicated statewide, with the backing of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a number of major corporations.

The core structure of the original P-Tech model, or the Pathways in Technology Early College High School, has been built on partnerships between the school, IBM, and a number of public universities in the city.

Not only did IBM and the universities shape the curriculum of the school; the company has arranged to have its employees individually mentor all of the school’s students. The school, located in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, allows students to graduate with an associate’s degree—the school calls it a grade 9-14 academic model—and students are also given an inside route to jobs at IBM.

The P-Tech model already has been copied at other schools in New York City, as well as in Chicago and Idaho. This week, Cuomo said the model would be expanded to 16 sites in regions across his state, serving 6,000 students, in what he described as the first statewide effort to replicate P-Tech.
Schools, colleges, and employers partnering with each other were chosen through a competitive process, and will be backed through state aid carved out of Cuomo’s 2013-2014 budget, as well as additional money from the state’s department of education.

While the Brooklyn-based version of P-Tech was connected to IBM, the partnerships in other parts of the state have drawn employers not just in technology, but health care, manufacturing, engineering, environmentally friendly building, and other industries. Companies who have come on board in communities across the state include Cisco, Lockheed Martin, Arkwin Industries, and others.

“This groundbreaking program will give students across the state the opportunity to earn a college degree without taking on significant debt from student loans while also starting on a pathway to a good-paying job when they graduate,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“These public-private partnerships are a model for success for our students, our employers and our regional economies.”

Because the P-Tech model is so new—the Brooklyn school opened just two years ago—it remains to be seen how successful it will be in fulfilling its college-and-career goals for students, and what it will take to apply its model in other communities. Other questions, which Education Week examined n a recent story on P-Tech, include whether it’s healthy for employers to be given so much say in shaping the academic direction of the school, and whether students in the P-Tech model will feel compelled to stick to a particular school’s academic track, even if they decide it’s not for them.

Our story featured a video with interviews with the school’s principal, Rashid Ferrod Davis, as well as students and others who help make the program go.

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