Connecticut Launches First School Based on IBM P-TECH Model

Connecticut opens a new high school in Norwalk based on IBM's P-TECH model that takes students from grade 9 to grade 14 to train future IT workers.

IBM P-TECH schools

IBM announced that the state of Connecticut has opened its first school based on the IBM Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) model in Norwalk to train future IT workers.

In a recent ceremony, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy cut the ribbon at the state’s inaugural IBM-affiliated Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA). The six-year academy--a collaboration between IBM, Norwalk Public Schools and Norwalk Community College--formally opened its doors on Aug. 27 with 90 ninth grade students.

Following the IBM P-TECH model, NECA will add one grade each year and ultimately serve grades 9 to 14 and confer both a high school diploma and a no-cost Associates degree in Applied Science.

IBM said the model will put young adults on the path to a good job. In fact, NECA graduates will be first in line if they choose to apply for jobs at IBM. Each NECA student is being matched with an IBM mentor. IBM is also shaping the curriculum based on real-world jobs. The company is organizing worksite visits, providing speakers and offering skills-based, paid internships to students so that they can continue the pursuit of education or be ready for the workforce upon graduation.

IBM launched the first P-TECH school in Brooklyn, N.Y., in September 2011. “P-TECH is designed to prepare its graduates with a rigorous education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects plus the real-world skills of the corporate workplace,” wrote Rashid F. Davis, principal of the P-TECH school in IBM’s Smarter Planet blog at the school’s opening three years ago. “To do that, we’ve had to create a new educational model – reaching across various divides to civic, community and corporate partners on behalf of our children."

President Obama visited the Brooklyn P-TECH school in October of last year.

"P-TECH is the result of a collaborative effort among the New York City Department of Education, The City University of New York, the New York City College of Technology and IBM," Davis said. "The school’s academic program centers on challenging classes, longer days and a longer school year. But P-TECH also will immerse its students in 'real-world' learning, courtesy of the IBM mentors assigned to each student and teacher, and to me. I will be mentored by both an IBM business leader and someone from the New York City Leadership Academy (NYCLA). In turn, I will coach a principal mentee from NYCLA to complete the cycle of teaching, learning, leadership and research.”

Later, in February 2012, IBM developed a playbook designed to outline how to develop an innovative grades 9-14 school that connects education to economic development and good-paying jobs. In conjunction with the release of the playbook, IBM also announced plans to partner with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) to open a grades 9-14 school in the City of Chicago. IBM said the P-TECH model that began in Brooklyn is expanding to more than 27 schools nationwide.

In September of 2012, five schools modeled on P-TECH opened in Chicago, backed by corporate partners IBM, Motorola, Verizon, Microsoft and Cisco. In February 2013 in Idaho, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation released $5 million Request for Proposals to create a new school model based on P-TECH, to jumpstart education innovation in Idaho.

In August 2013, two additional schools modeled on P-TECH open in New York City. Energy Tech High School is partnered with ConEd and National Grid while the Health and Emergency Response Occupation High School is partnered with Montefiore Medical Center. Three more P-TECH-based schools will open in New York City in 2014. Corporate partners are Microsoft and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, SAP and the American Association of Advertising Agencies. In New York State, 16 schools modeled on IBM's P-TECH will open in 2014. And in 2015 in New York City, six more P-TECH schools are pledged for 2015.