Turning Four Into Six

By Rashid Ferrod Davis

Here at P-TECH – the Pathways in Technology Early College High School – we’re dedicated to preparing our students for long-term success. For some, that will mean moving directly into middle-skill employment – the booming economic sector that promises 14 million new jobs over the next 10 years. For others, it will mean pursuing four-year degrees (and beyond) after completing their no-cost Associate in Applied Science degrees after six years at P-TECH. And for all of our graduates, we expect long-term success to include service to communities as earners, tax payers, heads of households, mentors and role models. The P-TECH “experiment” is working.

P-TECH’s story continues to be told because it’s a story worth telling. Begun in 2011, new chapters of our narrative are being written in Chicago and New York City, and across Connecticut and New York State. P-TECH is on the move.

So, what do we mean when we say that “six is the new four”? We mean that four years of traditional high school just isn’t enough, and hasn’t been for some time. We’re not saying that young people need six years to cover the same material they used to learn in four. We mean that somebody – in this case, school districts, community colleges and corporate partners – has to do something to prepare our children for productive adult lives, to close the skills gap between students’ preparation and industry’s requirements, to keep our country in the game on the global playing field.

The President agrees with us and has been following our work since we opened in September 2011. After praising us in a national online Town Hall and in his 2013 State
of the Union address
, President Obama wanted to see P-TECH for himself. He visited
last October
, and subsequently allocated $100 million in federal funds to expand our innovative educational model across the U.S. Together, but with unique characteristics to address the challenges of the communities they serve, these schools will transform American education.

Back in Brooklyn, we’re preparing our inaugural class for its third summer of college instruction, and internships with our corporate partner IBM. Rigorous academics are just part of the P-TECH experience, which we round out by acclimating our students to the culture of employment. Along the way, each student’s relationship with his or her IBM mentor grows stronger, as does the spirit of our commitment to turning four into six.

Rashid Ferrod Davis is the Founding Principal of the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn, New York.

Related Resources:

PBS NewsHour: Six Years for High School? Why Two Extra Years Is Catching On

P-TECH: New Schools Made With IBM

TIME Magazine: “The School That Will Get You a Job”

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