It’s a win-win for students: The new Pathways in Technology Early College High School — known as P-TECH — program gives specialized training to high school students in leading-edge fields, allowing them to earn their high school diploma and graduate from college with an associate’s degree. Plus, they get a head start in the competitive job market by partnering with local business — all at no cost to students or their parents.
This public-private partnership was launched in 2013, and will eventually serve more than 6,000 students. New York is the first state in the nation to take the P-TECH program statewide and link education to business and regional development; funding comes from the state Education Department, and some programs are cosponsored by IBM. The original P-TECH school, in Brooklyn, is in its third year; 16 additional schools are in the planning stages.
P-TECH students primarily study growth fields such as technology, manufacturing, and healthcare, while earning a high school diploma. A key element of the program is the partnership with colleges — several SUNY campuses are among those taking part — which offer advanced courses that move students closer to getting their associate’s degree in a shorter-than-normal timespan.
“And there’s a third component to P-TECH,” says the state Education Department’s Evelyn Maclutsky. “Along with the student’s own school and the partnering college, the local business community is also involved.” The students’ specialized training puts them first in line for jobs at firms in the region that partner with the P-TECH training program.
The Newburgh and Kingston school districts are among those chosen by the state to take part in the six-year project. Newburgh Curriculum Director Daniel Shanahan says the district’s program will target disadvantaged students at risk of dropping out of high school. Newburgh will partner with SUNY Orange and IBM in their program, slated to launch this fall, and focus on information technology courses.
Kingston schools plan to partner with groups including Ulster County BOCES and the Hudson Valley Council of Industry. The district’s P-TECH curriculum will concentrate on STEM courses.
Other groups partnering in the mid-Hudson region include SUNY Albany and the community colleges in Dutchess, Orange, Ulster, and Sullivan counties, as well as BOCES in Dutchess, Orange-Ulster, and Sullivan.
While similar in some ways to programs such as the Smart Scholars project, P-TECH focuses on the healthcare and technology fields in particular. It also adds the local business connection to enhance the likelihood of immediate job placement after graduation. “Especially because of the business component, P-TECH gives students an added leg up in terms of a future career,” Maclutsky says.
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