Dive Brief:

  • By 10th grade, students who attended the first seven New York City schools with P-TECH — a six-year, 9-14 model that bridges high school, higher education and work — were more likely than a comparison group to score high enough on a state English language arts exam to qualify for dual enrollment at City University of New York, a new evaluation found.
  • P-TECH students also earned more credits than peers in other schools. And while many of those credits were in career and technical education courses and other nonacademic subjects, “these additional credits did not appear to come at the expense of earning academic credits,” the authors wrote.
  • Conducted by MDRC, the study used the random lottery admission process for the city’s high schools to compare students who did and didn’t attend a P-TECH school. Most students in the sample were also scoring below proficiency in both math and ELA before entering high school, the authors wrote.  

Dive Insight:

P-TECH — Pathways to Technology Early College High School — began in 2011 as a three-way partnership between IBM, the New York City Department of Education and CUNY as a way to help students better navigate the transition between high school, college and the workforce. 

Earlier this month, P-TECH also launched Open P-TECH, a free digital platform focusing on workplace learning and digital skills aimed at students 14 to 20 years old. “On the one hand, this is a massive challenge,” Ginni Rometty, IBM executive chairman, said in a statement about the pandemic. “On the other, this presents a great opportunity to better prepare people for new collar careers.”

The content on the platform is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and students will be able to earn digital badges after completing modules. 

The “distinguishing feature” of the original model, the researchers wrote, is that a high school, a community college and industry partners are working together to prepare students not for college or a career, but both. This reduces “the potential for students to fall through the cracks, particularly those who do not have additional sources of support,” they wrote.

Students begin college coursework as early as 10th grade, focus on work-based learning and take Regents exams earlier. After three years in high school, the gap in ELA scores on the Regents exam between P-TECH students and comparison students was smaller, but scores were still higher among P-TECH students.

The model is now used in at least 24 countries, involving more than 200 schools and roughly 600 businesses. In some cases, students also earn an associate degree before at the same time they are finishing high school. 

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