Interim Findings on NYC’s P-TECH 9-14 Schools Show Students Earn More Credits, Are More Likely to Pass Regents Exams

Contact: John Hutchins, MDRC, 212-340-8604, [email protected]

(New York City, May 20, 2020) — Interim results released today from a random assignment evaluation show that New York City’s P-TECH Grades 9-14 Schools, which offer students accelerated high school, early college, and career-focused activities, increase the number of credits that students earn and boost their scores on English Language Arts (ELA) Regents exams. Most students at these schools are Black and Hispanic and come from low-income families; many enter high school below proficient in math and ELA.

Funded by the federal Institute of Education Sciences and conducted by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, the study offers initial impact and implementation findings covering the first three years of high school for this innovative career and technical education model. These interim findings suggest P-TECH 9-14 is putting more students on track to meet important goals, like high school graduation and associate’s degrees.

What Are NYC P-TECH Grades 9-14 Schools?

Initiated by IBM as a three-way partnership with the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) and The City University of New York (CUNY), the P-TECH 9-14 model is a multifaceted pathway program with a strong career focus that begins in high school and extends into college and the workforce. The first P-TECH 9-14 school opened in Brooklyn in 2011. Since then, the model has attracted national and international attention. As of 2019 it was being used in 24 countries, with over 200 schools partnering with some 600 businesses. The State of New York has allocated approximately $40 million in funding to P-TECH 9-14 expansion, making it a leader in P-TECH 9-14 student enrollment.

P-TECH 9-14 schools collaborate with local community colleges to provide students with an opportunity to earn a high school diploma and a cost-free, industry-recognized associate’s degree at the same time. During the six-year program, employer partners support P-TECH 9-14 schools by providing students with work-based learning experiences, such as internships, mentoring, and job shadowing.

What Did the Study Find?

This study focuses on the first seven NYC P-TECH 9-14 schools. It uses admissions lotteries created by the New York City High School Application Processing System (HSAPS) to form two groups of comparable students who had applied to attend P-TECH 9-14; one group was offered admission to P-TECH 9-14 and the other went to other schools. Students in the study were mostly Black and Hispanic, from lower income neighborhoods, and underprepared academically for high school. Approximately 70 percent of the students were below proficient in eighth grade ELA and more than 70 percent were below proficient in eighth-grade math.

The main implementation and impact findings are:

  • Students’ required high school coursework and Regents exams are accelerated, and all schools focus on career and technical education (CTE) programs — classes that teach students specific workplace skills aligned with the labor market and “soft skills,” such as good work habits and interpersonal skills.
  • College coursework begins largely in 10th grade and pacing and progress of course-taking varies by student.
  • The specific work-based opportunities available, such as workplace visits, job shadowing and internships, and levels of participation by students differed across the seven schools, yet all offer a wide range of professional experience.
  • After three years, P-TECH 9-14 students earned two more total credits than students in other schools, with results driven by credit accumulation in CTE and other nonacademic subjects, including classes in engineering, technology, and human services. These additional credits did not appear to come at the expense of students earning academic credits.
  • At the end of two years of high school, 42 percent of P-TECH 9-14 students had passed the ELA Regents exam with a score qualifying them for enrollment in CUNY courses, compared to 25 percent of comparison group students. By the end of three years, the gap was smaller but still favored P-TECH 9-14 students.

“The DOE is pleased to see that students at our NYC P-TECH Grades 9-14 schools are taking advantage of both career and technical education and early college course opportunities,” said Seung Yu, Senior Executive Director of the NYC DOE Office of Postsecondary Readiness. “These courses, in addition to work-based learning activities with schools’ industry partners, allow students to see how their high school experiences can set them on pathways to pursue STEM-focused higher education and careers. We are proud of the ongoing success of our students in attaining college and career readiness under the Grades 9-14 model. We look forward to our continuing partnership with the CUNY system and New York City industry partners for these schools.”

“These encouraging findings reinforce the critical role that public-private partnerships play in strengthening education systems and preparing students, regardless of their backgrounds, for college and career,” said Grace Suh, Vice President, Education, IBM Corporation. “The P-TECH 9-14 model demonstrates by joining forces and integrating collective expertise, we can raise student outcomes, break the cycle of poverty for underserved students, and close skills gaps in the economy.”

“CUNY is proud of its partnership with IBM and DOE and the work being accomplished at the seven P-TECH high schools to create a pipeline of diverse young students prepared for higher education and careers in high demand industries,” said Andrea Soonachan, University Dean for K-16 Initiatives at CUNY. “This interim MDRC study illustrates the promise of these schools in enrolling diverse student populations and supplying the early support these students need to succeed. We look forward to continuing this partnership and to seeing the findings in the next phase of this study.”

“Our new interim study suggests that P-TECH 9-14 schools are helping their students accelerate their ability to meet academic milestones, while getting real exposure to work-based opportunities” said D. Crystal Byndloss, MDRC senior associate and project director for the evaluation of P-TECH 9-14. “We look forward to learning more about how high school, college, and employer partners collaborate — and to seeing if these early positive indicators lead to higher rates of high school graduation and college success.”

What’s Next for the P-TECH Grades 9-14 Evaluation?

The P-TECH 9-14 model appears to be meeting the needs of academically low-performing students, including those that entered the schools in eighth grade with the lowest levels of academic success. Later reports from this study will focus on whether these findings lead to additional improvements in student outcomes related to high school graduation and college success.

For more information, read Bridging the School-to-Work Divide: Interim Implementation and Impact Findings from New York City’s P-TECH 9-14 Schools by Rachel Rosen, D. Crystal Byndloss, Leigh Parise, Emma Alterman, and Michelle Dixon.

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MDRC is committed to finding solutions to some of the most difficult problems facing the nation — from reducing poverty and bolstering economic self-sufficiency to improving public education and college graduation rates. MDRC designs promising new interventions, evaluates existing programs using the highest research standards, and provides technical assistance to build better programs and deliver effective interventions at scale.

The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305A170250 to MDRC. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.