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P-TECH 9-14 Schools to Blossom to 80 by Fall

Six years after the launch of the first Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) school in Brooklyn, yet another cohort of students is graduating — each walking away with a high school diploma, an associate's degree in a STEM field and related work experience. Most P-TECH participants have two things in common: They come from low-income families and they've completed their six-year programs in five years or less. Many have also gone on to take jobs within IBM, the corporate partner that helped launch the P-TECH idea.

P-TECH began in 2011 when IBM collaborated with the New York City Department of Education, the City University of New York and the New York City College of Technology to open the first 9-14 school. A year later, five schools opened in Chicago backed by IBM, as well as Cisco, Microsoft, Motorola and Verizon. Schools in both cities will have graduated a combined 100 students since their founding.

The model P-TECH follows is to impose lofty expectations on students and to help them see themselves on a career pathway from the time they enter ninth grade. Students participate in mentoring, workplace visits, job shadowing and internships. Corporate partners commit to making sure the young people gain sufficient experience in their given fields to be considered as "first in line" candidates for new jobs.

As of September 2016, there were 60 schools, not just in New York and Illinois, but also in Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island and Australia. They'll number 80 by this fall, according to IBM, and have 300 different companies — large and small — signed on as industry partners.

"Our graduates and young IBM hires show that American STEM talent can be grown, pointing the way to what is possible, with more black and Hispanic students completing high school and college without the need of remediation," said Rashid Davis, P-TECH's founding principal, in a prepared statement. "Providing equal opportunity to underserved youth in our community is what success looks like. Starting in Brooklyn, this new education paradigm has spread across the country, helping recharge economies. P-TECH's efforts from industry, post-secondary and secondary professionals show that together, we can continue to improve public education."

Graduates have already joined IBM, working as front-end web developers, organizational developers, coders and analysts. Many are also continuing college in pursuit of bachelor's degrees.

The P-TECH website offers case studies, tools and other resources to help school districts, colleges and universities and businesses begin the establishment of new schools that follow the same model.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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