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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

P-TECH grows, but is it working?

P-TECH Principal Rashid Davis looks at a photo of President Barack Obama’s visit to the school. Photo: Jenny Abamu

IBM is scaling up the wildly popular P-TECH model,reports Jenny Abamu on EdSurge. But the original Brooklyn school is struggling to raise completion rates.

Pathways in Technology Early College High School (more commonly known as P-TECH) in Crown Heights, Brooklyn opened its doors in 2011. The public high school’s claim to fame was its unique model serving grades 9 to 14, offering students associate’s degrees in STEM majors by the time they graduate. Backed by companies like IBM, and championed by the New York City Department of Education and even former President Barack Obama, the unique model has spread from one to 60 schools across the globe—all in under six years.

IBM plans to create 80 new P-TECH schools in the U.S. and abroad. Federal and state legislators are eager to create more schools like P-TECH.

However, of the first cohort of students who enrolled in 2011, only 56 percent are on track to graduate on-time with an associate’s degree, reports Abamu.

According to an NPR report published in March of 2016, “21 percent of grades earned by [P-TECH students in college courses [the fall of 2014] were D’s and F’s.”

“Zero” students in the first cohort have dropped out, Principal Rashid Davis told Jamaal Abdul-Alim of Diverse. However, five are still trying to finish high school after six years.

As of spring, a total of 54 students had graduated  early from P-TECH Brooklyn — that is, with an associate degree in computer systems technology or electromechanical engineering — and are now pursuing their bachelor’s degrees full-time or starting their careers at IBM. An estimated 25 are pursuing their bachelor’s degrees full-time, and roughly 15 were in the process of applying to four-year universities as of this spring, figures obtained from IBM show. . . . Thus far, only 10 students from P-TECH in Brooklyn have secured jobs at IBM.

Radcliffe Saddler, 20, who earned an associate degree after four years at P-TECH, works for IBM as an associate designer. He is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in public policy at Baruch College with help from IBM’s tuition reimbursement program.

President Trump signed an executive order yesterday “empowering” companies,  unions, industry groups and federal  agencies to develop job training and apprenticeship programs.

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