P-TECH high schools plan to go statewide

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In the fall, eighteen new Pathways to Education in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) will open across New York state, meaning that ninth-graders starting in September will be able to pursue an educational path that lets them graduate in six years with an associate degree.

The sixteen P-TECH high schools will hold summer sessions in July, when students will be introduced to each other and gain a head start on project-based learning and other key elements of the P-TECH model.

Representatives of the schools met recently at a session in Albany to discuss program implementation. The event featured State Education Commissioner John King, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, IBM Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs Stanley S. Litow (pictured above) , and Business Council President and CEO Heather C. Briccetti, Esq. (pictured above).

Each school will have a curriculum based on workplace learning — designed to provide students with math, writing, collaboration and presentation skills — they’ll need to succeed in today’s business environment.

Each P-TECH school has a corporate partner and the students should graduate with skills that will qualify them to work at major companies like IBM, GlobalFoundries, Lockheed-Martin, GE Healthcare or Bombardier.

Graduating with the two-year college degrees will come at no cost to students in the program.

P-TECH schools were awarded shares of a $28 million state grant in a competition last year offered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

The schools are all modeled after Brooklyn’s P-TECH High School that formed as a partnership between the New York City School District and IBM.

IBM’s Litow said the model was conceived as way for IBM to fill the growing need for middle-skills jobs that require more education than a high school diploma but not a four-year college degree.

Speaking to teams of educators and business leaders who are organizing the new schools, Litow said recently that the challenge they face is to bring to scale the successful Brooklyn model.

“Bringing great initiatives to scale is always the greatest challenge,” he said.

Businesses in New York state are projected to create one million jobs that require more education than a high school diploma but not a four-year college degree between 2008 and 2018, according to data compiled by Jobs for the Future and The Business Council of New York State.

Referred by the Brookings Institute as “the hidden STEM economy,” middle-skill jobs will make up 39 percent — the largest portion — of all jobs in New York state by 2018. Jobs requiring a four-year college degree will comprise 34 percent of the workforce while low-skill jobs, those requiring a high school diploma or less, will make up the remaining 27 percent of the workforce.

“The business community recognizes the urgency in closing the middle-skills gap, and that jobs in the STEM field play a major role in driving the state’s economy,” said Business Council President Briccetti.

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