The role of high school is shifting, in part given President Obama’s recent push to redesign the education system to ensure that American students are enrolling in college and keeping up with the skills that a global economy demands.
Schools like Manor New Tech High in Austin, Texas, and Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn, N.Y., are bringing college-level instruction into high school classrooms while also working with businesses. “The high school diploma is no longer enough,” says Rashid Davis, principal of P-TECH. “The associate degree should be the end point for secondary education.”
P-TECH is an early college high school, which teaches up to grade 14, or sophomore year of college. The students graduate with an associate’s degree. And Manor New Tech uses dual-credit courses, which allow students to receive high school and college credits from one course. Students can accumulate 12 to 30 college hours, says Principal Steven Zipkes.
The schools also have partnered with businesses and industries to introduce students to their potential future careers. “The idea is to have a pathway from high school, through college to industry,” Davis explains. P-TECH, heading into its third year, teamed up with IBM. And Manor New Tech has worked with Samsung Semi-Conductor, Freescale Semi-Conductor, and Applied Materials.
Unlike most schools, Manor New Tech’s teachers teach through projects rather than lectures, says Zipkes. Instructors create the group projects “based on state standards,” using real world problems for inspiration. Students every year are expected to complete 50 to 65 projects, each ending with an oral presentation that is graded by an external panel.
Manor New Tech is working with the University of Texas UTeach program, through which students can study engineering, audio-visual production, or web and video game design.
P-TECH is working with City University of New York and New York City College of Technology. Students from P-TECH move onto City Tech to get their associate’s degree in either computer information systems or electro engineer technology.