P-TECH High School (9-14)
2015-2016 Model

Rapidly Spreading Early-College-to-Career Model

Pathways in Technology Early College High School, more commonly called P-TECH High School, in Brooklyn, NY, opened its doors in fall 2011 and has been widely replicated across the state and beyond through a model called P-TECH 9-14. Like its sister schools, P-TECH admits students without screening for past academic performance and offers a combined high school and college program. In six years or less, students may earn an associate degree in applied science (AAS) degree that prepares them for well-paying jobs in a specific industry. Students are paired with a mentor from the industry of choice and a customized set of work-based learning activities as well as opportunities for paid internships and “first in line” priority for available entry-level positions in the field for which they have trained.

Student Population Free reduced lunch
(%)
ELL
(%)
Special Ed.
(%)
Staff / Student ratio
582* 68 2 15 1/22
*Will be 600-650 when fully populated.

School Contact Info

P-TECH
150 Albany Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11213
Grades: 9-14
(718) 221-1593
Principal: Rashid Davis
State P-Tech Contact: Robin Willner
(718) 221-1593
(518) 465-7511 ext. 288

Challenge

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? 

Solutions

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.

Results

Persistence:

  • Student Attendance: 92%
  • Teacher Attendance: 98%
  • Teacher Retention (3 or more years): 79%

Achievement:

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.

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Key Policy Considerations

District Policies

The district’s way of reporting graduation rates assumes that students should graduate in four years (although six-year graduation rates are also reported). This is disadvantageous to the school because students are simultaneously meeting high school and college requirements. As such, students may require more than four years to meet high school graduation requirements despite many being enrolled in college courses as early as the 10th grade.  The teacher’s day is 8:30 am to 4:06 pm. This schedule is longer than the day prescribed in the teacher contract. Teachers receive additional compensation and are fully informed of this arrangement when they accept employment at the school.

State Policies

In 2013, the New York State Governor created a funding stream to support starting P-TECH 9-14 schools across the state. There are now 26 operating with seven more planned. Because of the innovative six-year structure, there are a range of applicable state policies that affect accountability, diploma requirements, and approval of CTE and degree pathways. As the model replicates in other states, these policies vary.

Key Strategies

  • Partnership of school/district with:
    • employers within an industry
    • a college offering an associate's degree that leads to high-paying jobs in that industry
  • Initial college coursework at the high school with peers and then later at the college with college students to give high school students the full college experience. Government funding pays for the college courses so that students can get an AAS degree before they leave high school at no cost to them or their families.
  • Intensive focus in 9th grade on preparing students to get the scores on state literacy and math tests that allow them to take college courses beginning in 10th grade
  • Planning a six-year scope and sequence that prepares students for the specific demands of the college courses they will be taking and the internships and entry-level jobs they will be applying for
  • An integrated sequence of workplace learning, including coursework beginning in the 9th grade that targets professional skills such as teamwork, problem solving, office etiquette, etc.
  • One-on-one mentoring, beginning in the 9th grade
  • Paid internships available when students meet required benchmarks, beginning the summer between the 11th and 12th grades
  • Individual scheduling of students based on the requirements they have met toward a high school diploma and an AAS degree and the gaps they need to fill
  • An industry liaison based at the high school to oversee mentorship and internship programs
  • A six-week summer bridge program before the 9th grade to accelerate students’ meeting college-ready benchmarks
  • Extended day and weekend and summer programs to provide extra support and accelerate students accumulating the college credits required to earn an AAS

Curriculum and Instruction

The main drivers for curriculum are 1) the benchmarks students must meet before they are allowed to take college courses 2) the professional skills that students must acquire to be prepared for paid internships and possible full-time employment at IBM 3) the state Regents exams required for a high school diploma and 4) the prescribed college course requirements for two available AAS degrees.

In the 9th grade, there is a full-court press in math and ELA to prepare students for the state Regents exams in those areas. The goal is for students to achieve the scores required on those two gate-keeping tests to be eligible in the 10th grade to start taking courses for college credit. Ninth-graders are scheduled for classes with peers who have similar scores on those two Regents exams. An adaptive literacy program with a focus on nonfiction, Achieve 3000, is used to assess students' literacy and provide leveled instruction. Math teachers are currently using a web-based curriculum, E-math, which includes videos for every lesson that students can watch on their own time.

Across the high school curriculum, there is a strong emphasis on building the professional skills valued most by employers, including their partner, IBM. Thus, teachers in every discipline stress group work, real-life problem solving, and students teaching students. IBM co-designs a workplace skills course that includes projects students do with their mentors. IBM mentors also collaborate informally with teachers to build industry applications into the curriculum.

Course Taking

The six-year scope and sequence includes three different pathways for achieving the high school diploma and AAS degree, depending on how long it takes students, many of whom enter below grade level, to get the scores on state tests required to enroll in college classes. Although New York high school students typically do not attempt the English Regents exam until their junior year, Brooklyn P-TECH students take it for the first time during the bridge program before they enter 9th grade. It is used initially for diagnostic purposes. Students are grouped for 9th-grade English with students who have similar needs and strengths. Some entering 9th-graders have already taken the Algebra 1 Regents exam in the 8th grade and, if they have met the benchmark score, are scheduled for double periods of Algebra 2/Trig 1. All other students take the Algebra 1 Regents exam during the bridge and, as with English, are placed in 9th-grade classes accordingly.

Ninth-graders take three periods of math (Algebra 1 or, once they score high enough on the Algebra 1 Regents exam, Algebra 2/trigonometry), two periods of English, a technology course, a work skills course, and PE/health.

In the 10th and 11th grades and, in some cases, the 12th grade, students take science (Living Environment and chemistry), math (additional Algebra 1 if needed, Algebra 2/trigonometry, and geometry), the equivalent of four semesters of global studies, and two semesters of American history with high school teachers to prepare them for the Regents exams in those subjects. PE/health is also taught by high school teachers. Students take a variety of online courses in a blended learning environment. Students take at least a year of Spanish or French. They take English courses with high school teachers until they get the required score on the ELA Regents exam. They then take three credits of speech and six credits of English composition with college professors.

AAS students must pass a college pre-calculus course. After they get the required score on the math Regents exam, they take a college placement test that determines whether they are ready for that course. If not, they are placed in one or more college math classes to prepare them. They take these college math courses in addition to the high school math courses that end in Regents exams.

By the 12th grade, many students are taking most of their coursework at the college. In the 13th and 14th year, virtually all of their courses will be at the college but they remain enrolled at the high school. They may also be interning with IBM for course credit.

Every student’s program is tailor-made every semester based on what college courses they are eligible to take and need to complete the AAS requirements and what high school requirements they still need to meet. Courses and internships are also available during the summer.

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Assessment

Because of testing prerequisites for taking college courses, there is a laser-like focus on the state Algebra 1 and ELA Regents exams, both recently retooled to align with Common Core State Standards. Students take them for the first time at the end of the summer bridge program and then continue to take them (they are administered in January, June, and August) until they achieve at least a 75 on the ELA exam and a 70 on the algebra exam. These are the scores that high school graduates must achieve to avoid remediation courses when they enter City University of New York colleges. P-TECH students from the 10th grade on are eligible for college-level courses for college credit as soon as they achieve these scores. Across P-TECH 9-14 schools, the focus is to ensure that high school courses are well aligned with college requirements so that students are prepared to step into college credit-bearing courses without first having to take remedial work.

Organization

Teachers meet regularly in departments (math, English, social studies, science, and technology).  A representative from each department meets regularly with college professors in the same  field. Teachers across all disciplines teach the workplace skills course designed in collaboration with IBM.

Schedule Basics

Scheduling varies at the 26 existing P-TECH 9-14 schools but all are striving to use time in grades 9 through 14 as effectively and efficiently as possible. Below is information on the Brooklyn, NY, and Syracuse, NY, P-TECH schedules.

Schedule Considerations

The entire high school schedule is determined by:

  • Which students have achieved the required scores on two benchmark Regents exams
  • Which students need to be scheduled for which college courses, keeping in mind the prescribed order in which courses in the major must be taken
  • When college professors are available to teach those courses

 

Bell Schedule (Brooklyn P-TECH)

Brooklyn P-TECH follows a 10-period schedule (including lunch) with 43-minute periods and three minutes for passing. The student day runs from 8:35 am to 4:06 pm with breakfast offered from 8-8:30 am and after-school activities and tutoring offered until 7:30 pm. There are also credit-bearing evening courses.

 

Core Subject Master Schedule (Syracuse)

 

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Key schedule strategies:

  • Teachers have one flexible day per week which can be used for individual PD, collaboration, and push-in for team teaching
  • Teachers have one common planning period per day that is shared with at least one other teacher
  • During a teacher's flexible day, students take engineering classes.

Sample 9th-Grade Student Schedule (Brooklyn)

 

  Student 1 Student 2
Period Course Course
1 PhysEd PhysEd
2 Eng9 Term2 Alg2Trig2
3 Eng9 Term2 Alg2Trig2
4 Integ. Algebra 2 Intro to Technology
5 Lunch Lunch
6 Intro to Technology Workplace Learning
7 Integ. Algebra 2 Eng9 Term 2
8 Integ. Algebra 2 Eng9 Term 2
9 Workplace Learning Geometry 1
10 Intro to Technology Geometry 1

Key schedule strategies:

  • Students take three periods of math and two periods of English.
  • Which math and English courses students take depends on the results of benchmark tests.
  • Students do not take science or social studies in the 9th grade

 

College Model

All students are enrolled in one of two college programs leading to an associates degree — either in Computer Information Systems or Electromechanical Technology. In the 10th grade, they take an introductory course in each area to help them decide which pathway to take. And, beginning in the 10th grade, or as soon as they meet the criteria for college readiness (a score of 75 on the ELA Common Core Regents and 70 on the Algebra 1 Common Core Regents), they begin taking the specific courses required for that degree.

The P-TECH steering committee works with the college to smooth out any course registration problems for cohort members, ensuring that the necessary classes are available to students when they are ready to take them. (This is an important function for every P-TECH 9-14 school steering committee.)  The students’ high school schedules revolve around when those courses are offered. Seniors also receive guidance in applying to four-year colleges so that they have the option of leaving before or after earning their AAS to pursue a BA.

As the first cohort completes their associates degrees and receive full-time job offers from IBM, some are considering requesting deferred entrance from four-year colleges. This would give them the opportunity to immediately acquire work experience in the area they have studied as well as earn a good salary to offset the expense of the last two years of college.

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Professional Development

Teachers in the same discipline are scheduled for common planning periods — where possible, the entire department, but at least pairs of teachers who work together on curriculum. Math and literacy coaches work with both departments and individual teachers and organize PD. Other consultants work with teachers across the curriculum on integrating technology. Grade teams meet weekly to focus on the needs of specific students. Monthly staff meetings are dedicated to PD. One current focus is integrating math across the curriculum. Every summer, teachers participate in a retreat at an IBM facility working collaboratively with the staffs of other IBM P-TECH schools. Technology teachers have worked at IBM labs over the summer, resulting in their learning new ways to prepare students for internships.

Student Community

From the moment they enter, students are told they are college students.  Early on, even before they take their first college course, they are issued a CUNY ID.  They also understand from 9th grade on that they are preparing for a profession.  The frequent presence of IBM mentors in the school as well as the coursework they take on professional skills is a regular reminder that they are on track to a rewarding career.  Across their classes, students practice teamwork and problem solving and teach each other.  Older students mentor and tutor younger students. There is a healthy competition within each cohort.  As the cohort sees the first of its members passing college courses and getting paid internships, the rest see what is possible for them and step up their game.

Professional Community

The partnership with a college and an industry has resulted in teachers being deeply involved in creating a curriculum that supports that partnership. That in turn has fostered a great deal of collaboration among teachers and between the faculty and each of their partners and a strong sense of ownership and empowerment on the part of high school faculty.  New teachers are paired with veterans; every department meets with the college professors who teach their students in that discipline; IBM mentors and other IBM employees co-design the 9th-grade workplace skills course with teachers and, more informally, work with teachers on real-world applications to high school coursework.

Family Engagement

A special section of the school’s website, entitled Parent’s Corner, conveniently houses information most requested by families. The website also offers technology tips for parents, a pre-algebra student-parent study guide for parents to work with students if they enter with low math skills, and parent-oriented material from iLearn NYC and other online resources.  The school gives parents accounts on Achieve 3000, the school’s literacy tool. In its first year, the school extensively surveyed family members to identify their interest in continuing education.