Vocational Education in the 21st Century at P-Tech

The typical high school curriculum is broad, and high school students often graduate with a vast array of knowledge across many subjects instead of a specialized focus in one particular subject area.

Pathways in Technology Early College High School hopes to change that.

As covered in Al Baker’s New York Times article this week, Pathways, or P-Tech, is a vocational high school in Brooklyn, New York that aims to teach technology to students within a six year program, combining high school and college education in order to prepare students for jobs in tech after graduation. P-Tech students will graduate from the school with with associate’s degrees in applied science in computer information systems or electromechanical engineering technology, following a course of studies developed in consultation with IBM.

P-Tech is in its second year, with 230 freshman and sophomore level students taking a variety of classes. P-Tech’s curriculum intersperses traditional classes such as geometry, physics, and English with technology and business courses that teach networking, critical thinking and presentation skills. Students as young as sophomores can opt to take college-level courses in speech, logic, and problem solving.

In an economy in which many new jobs demand STEM skills of their employees, many school systems are eager to start their own vocational schools, referred to as career and technical education, or C.T.E. School officials in Chicago, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, and Tennessee have plans to open similar schools, some in partnership with other tech corporations. The Obama administration has recommended that Congress provide more funding for career and technical education.

IBM’s International Foundation created P-Tech’s curriculum by analyzing the skills their own employees needed, and then created courses that teach those skills. IBM employees helped train teachers and faculty, and each student is paired with an IBM mentor. P-Tech’s ultimate objective is to prepare students for entry-level technology jobs.

Interested in learning more about P-Tech? Check out the New York Times article “At Technology High School, Goal Isn’t to Finish in 4 Years,” or visit P-Tech’s website here.

What do you think of P-Tech’s approach? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or tweet them to @Technapex or @ce_doyle.

Caity Doyle

Caity is a former English teacher and the editor of Technapex. Caity is extremely passionate about education and is TriplePoint PR's resident edtech expert. When not researching education policy and edtech, she enjoys running along the Bay Trail while blaring the Boss through her headphones, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, and meeting fellow Italians in North Beach.

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About Caity Doyle

Caity is a former English teacher and the editor of Technapex. Caity is extremely passionate about education and is TriplePoint PR's resident edtech expert. When not researching education policy and edtech, she enjoys running along the Bay Trail while blaring the Boss through her headphones, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, and meeting fellow Italians in North Beach.