Chicago plans six-year high schools

Chicago will open as many as five high-school, community-college hybrids next fall, reports the Chicago Tribune. Students could enroll for up to six years to earn a high school diploma and associate degree in technical fields.

IBM is giving Chicago a $400,000 grant and helping develop the schools,which will be modeled on New York City’s newly opened Pathways in Technology Early College High School. P-Tech is a partnership between IBM, the New York City College of Technology and the City University of New York.

IBM will recruit Chicago Public Schools teachers who want to be trained to work in the new schools.

“If we’re going to really meet our commitment to young people to say, ‘You’re going to be prepared for entry-level jobs in a good-paying career, not just a job that leads to a dead end,’ they’re going to need an associate’s degree,” said Robin Willner, an IBM executive who’s overseeing the Chicago initiative. “This is not about narrowing a student’s opportunity. It’s saying not only will you be first in line for a job at IBM, but also prepared for an IT career (elsewhere).”

The P-Tech model assumes that some students will go on to earn a bachelor’s degree, while others will be able to start a career immediately.