P-TECH High Schools: Bridging the School-to-Work Divide

Traditionally, the secondary, postsecondary and workforce sectors have functioned largely in isolation from one another. All too often, learners are expected to navigate secondary education then transition to postsecondary education and subsequently transition into the workforce with little to no support. However, many education and workforce leaders have recently begun working collaboratively to better align these experiences and support learners to transition seamlessly along high-quality career pathways. 

MDRC recently evaluated one such example: the Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) 9-14 education model in New York City. The P-TECH 9-14 education model was started as a partnership between IBM, seven New York City public high schools under the New York City Department of Education and the City University of New York (CUNY), a network of 25 colleges. P-TECH 9-14 schools partner with local colleges, giving students an opportunity to earn a high school diploma within four years followed by a cost-free industry-recognized associate degree. During the six-year program, P-TECH 9-14 schools partner with employers to provide work-based learning experiences including internships, mentorships and job shadowing. All P-TECH 9-14 schools are Career Technical Education (CTE) focused. Students take accelerated high school coursework and New York State Regents exams, begin college coursework as early as their 10th grade year, and receive college/career transition support.

MDRC’s report examines the early impacts of the P-TECH 9-14 education model on student outcomes in their first three years of high school including course credit accumulation in both academic and CTE-related courses, Regents exam attempts and pass levels, and attendance. Because students in New York City are required to apply for high school using the New York City High School Application Processing System (HSAPS), the study takes advantage of the randomization created by HSAPS’ admission lotteries to compare admitted students to students who applied but were not admitted. The study found that:

  • Learners in P-TECH 9-14 schools earned significantly more total credits, largely in CTE and other non-academic subjects, by the end of both their second and third years of high school than peers who were not accepted through the lottery system. 
  • Learners in P-TECH 9-14 schools were much more likely to earn non-academic credits in work-based learning, technology, engineering and human service subjects than their peers.
  • Learners in P-TECH 9-14 students were more likely than their peers to attempt the Regents exam and pass the English Language Arts Regents exam with a score qualifying them for enrollment in CUNY coursework within the first three years of high school. This means more P-TECH 9-14 students were eligible for CUNY dual enrollment in earlier years than the comparison group.

These findings can have significant equity implications. The P-TECH 9-14 students in this study were mostly Black and Latinx, from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and underprepared for high school. These early findings suggest that P-TECH 9-14 schools are having success with students from historically marginalized populations. MDRC plans to issue additional reports from this study that recommend improvements in student outcomes related to high school graduation and college success.

Odds and Ends

NCES: The Condition of Education 2020

The National Center for Education Statistics has released the annual congressionally mandated report, The Condition of Education. Data in this report include enrollment levels, academic progress, educational attainment and

 financial status. The report indicators are organized into four sections: pre-primary, elementary and secondary; postsecondary; population characteristics and economic outcomes; and international comparisons. One highlight from the report is that the number of certificates conferred below the associate’s level by postsecondary institutions increased 87 percent from 553,000 to a peak of 1 million between 2000-2011. That figure has since decreased by 7 percent to 955,000 by the end of the 2018 academic year. 

The Urban Institute: Request for Information and Survey

The Urban Institute is seeking letters of inquiry for proposed research projects. Anyone seeking funding and/or research partners to support the implementation or evaluation of an intervention program or looking to suggest a promising approach for others to adopt or research can respond to this request. Potential respondents can include local, state and federal officials, service providers, employee groups, employers and employer associations, advocates and researchers.

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

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