Monday, November 05, 2012

Innovative Technology High School Replaces Failing School in NYC

An article about a very innovative high school, replacing a failing one in NYC:

Flakes of green paint are peeling from the third-floor windowsills. Some desks are patched with tape, others etched with graffiti. The view across the street is of a row of boarded-up brownstones.
The building and its surroundings in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, may look run-down, but inside 150 Albany Avenue may sit the future of the country’s vocational education: The first 230 pupils of a new style of school that weaves high school and college curriculums into a six-year program tailored for a job in the technology industry.

By 2017, the first wave of students of P-Tech — Pathways in Technology Early College High School — is expected to emerge with associate’s degrees in applied science in computer information systems or electromechanical engineering technology, following a course of studies developed in consultation with I.B.M.

“I mean, in 10th grade, doing college work?” said Monesia McKnight, 15, as she sat in an introduction to computer systems course taught by a college professor. “How great is that?”

Many with four-year degrees are facing a transforming economy where jobs require less generalized types of education and more of the skills that many college graduates lack, in science, technology, engineering or math.

Into this breach, school systems around the country have been aiming to start new high schools like P-Tech. Officials in Chicago were so taken by New York’s school that they opened five similar schools this year with corporate partners in telecommunications and technology. Besides New York and Illinois, education officials in Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina and Tennessee have committed to creating such schools, and the Obama administration has recommended that Congress provide more money for vocational education — the preferred name is career and technical education, or C.T.E. — to promote this approach.

A year from now, New York City plans to open two more schools just like P-Tech, focusing on other growing industries in the city, possibly including health care. A fourth one is planned to open in September 2014. The State Board of Regents is also trying to develop assessment exams for this type of school, perhaps one that could be substituted for one of the usual Regents tests.

“When we view high-quality C.T.E. programs, we see how engaged those students are and what clear aspirations they have for their future,” said John B. King Jr., the state education commissioner. “Unfortunately, that’s not always present in some of our struggling schools.”

P-Tech, which began last year with a ninth grade and now has a 10th grade, is inside Paul Robeson High School, which is being phased out because of poor performance.

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