At a time when a range of economic, academic, and social issues are preventing many low-income students from enrolling or staying in college, a surge in career opportunities requiring an AAS degree is taking place. How could the right combination of partners create educational and career opportunities for students least likely to have them?
In 2010, the then-NYC mayor, his schools chancellor, and the CEO of IBM identified a way to help each other meet these challenges by involving the private sector in better preparing potential employees for a growing number of hard-to-fill positions that require an AAS in a technical field. In the fall of 2011, Brooklyn P-TECH (9-14) opened its doors. Without any screening for academic achievement, this partnership offers students a six-year scope and sequence culminating in an AAS degree from New York City College of Technology. The program includes:
- Intensive work in literacy and math to help students meet the eligibility requirements to take college courses by the 10th grade
- A focus on the professional skills future employers value most
- A mentor from IBM
- Opportunities for paid internships and high-paying full-time positions at IBM and other IT companies
In 2013, the governor of New York spearheaded an effort to spread the P-TECH model statewide.
- Student Attendance: 92%
- Teacher Attendance: 98%
- Teacher Retention (3 or more years): 79%
In 2014-15, 85% of 9th graders and 86% of 10th graders earned enough credits to be on track for graduation. Furthermore, 73% of the first cohort of students completed all high school graduation requirements in four years. Eleven students completed requirements for both a high school diploma and an AAS in nine semesters. The remaining 27% are still working on high school and college requirements. Not a single member of this first cohort has dropped out of school.
Most strikingly, 65% of students met CUNY’s college readiness standards in both math and literacy after four years of high school (as compared to 35% citywide) and 84% of all students in the school passed approved college or career preparatory courses and assessments (as compared to 46% citywide). This first cohort is now in its fifth year at the school — Grade 13. Six students from the initial cohort earned a college degree after only four years of high school — three are now full-time IBM employees and the other three are studying full time for bachelor's degrees. Five more students in the first cohort earned their AAS in 9 semesters.
Currently, 76% of the first cohort members still working on their AAS have college grade-point averages of 2.0 or better. As of the end of the fall 2015 semester, 80% of the students in the first cohort have thus far participated in paid internships, most at IBM; 11% have earned the AAS degree; 68% have earned more than two semesters of college credit toward the degree, and 17% have earned a semester’s worth of credits toward the degree.
Schoolwide, as of the end of the fall 2015 semester, 260 P-TECH students (grades 10 through 13) had attempted college courses and 84% had achieved the grade-point average required to be in good standing with the college. Overall,127 students had attempted more than 24 credits, and 87% of them had grade-point averages of 2.0 or higher.