Students need new options beyond a four-year college for all, write Stanley S. Litow, president of the IBM Foundation, and Robert B. Schwartz, academic dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-author of the Pathways to Prosperity report. New York City is opening a model school that will take students from ninth through “14th grade.”
. . . while preparing for college has become the nearly exclusive focus of educators, the fact is that seven in 10 Americans don’t earn a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s. Moreover, only slightly more than 20 percent of students who enroll in community colleges obtain a two-year associate degree, even after three years. . . . roughly one-third of new jobs over the next decade will require some form of postsecondary education or training but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree.
Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH, is a collaboration between the New York City schools, City University of New York (CUNY), New York City College of Technology (City Tech) and IBM. Students will have the opportunity to complete a high school diploma and an associate degree in applied science. Some will go on to a four-year institution, while others will be first in line for a job at IBM or other companies with a demand for IT workers.
Students will begin earning college credit in the 9th grade through a curriculum that combines the best in STEM education—or science, technology, engineering, and math. As part of this program, students will be immersed in project-based and workplace learning experiences that will provide them with academic and career skills. The focus is on mastery, not seat time, so students who excel can earn their degrees at an accelerated pace. Because the demands will be great, students will be supported with mentoring and extended-day and summer learning opportunities.
IBM will provide information for curriculum development by defining the skills it seeks in new IT hires with an associate in applied science degree.
The city hopes to open similar schools focused on health, banking and other fields where industry partners are available.