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April 11, 2014

Why some students are choosing to go to high school for six years

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When it comes to high school, should six years be the new four? At Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), students are admitted as freshman and are expected to leave six years later with a high school diploma and a two-year associate of applied science degree, basically finishing community college for free

“An associate degree means a start. It’s a start to what I want to do with my future, where I want to go,” said Cletus Andoh, a junior at P-TECH.

Supporters of the concept hope that getting the associate degree will make it easier for low-income students who might not otherwise see themselves as college or career ready to go on to technical jobs or higher education.

The program is the brainchild of a public-private partnership developed by IBM, the New York City Education Department, and the City University of New York.

Students have longer school days, attend classes year-round, and get hands-on training in job skills that companies like IBM need.

Last year, President Barack Obama visited P-TECH and announced a $100 million competitive grant program, encouraging similar partnerships between high schools, private industry and universities; 16 new P-TECH schools will open across New York in September and leverage the support of other businesses to focus on areas, including manufacturing, clean technology, and health care.


Warm up questions
  1. Do you feel prepared to go to college or into a career after you graduate from high school? Why or why not?
  2. What kinds of skills will you need to be successful after high school?
Discussion questions
  1. Do you think the education students at P-TECH receive make them better prepared for college or a career? Why or why not?
  2. Consider the experience students at P-TECH have once they have finish. If you had a similar opportunity to attend a six year high school like P-TECH would you want to? Explain your answer.
Writing prompts

Imagine that you are a principal who has been given the freedom to design a school and curriculum that would prepare students for college or a career. What would your school look like? What would the students learn? How long would they spend in school? Answer these questions in an outline and support your choices with explanations for each decision. Draw a picture of your school. Finally, compare and contrast your school from P-TECH.

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