Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that the first schools to embrace the Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) model for grades 9-14 are coming to Louisiana this fall and will be located in East and West Baton Rouge Parishes. The schools are the result of a partnership established between IBM, DOW Chemical, the Louisiana Department of Education and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.
“This innovative STEM-focused education model will provide students with the skills necessary for them to have successful careers in the growing technology industry,” said Gov. Edwards. “I applaud IBM and DOW for helping to train our future workforce. It showcases the kind of opportunities that partnerships between private industry and state and local government can create for our young people. This program has a proven track record of being effective across the country, and I look forward to those same results in Louisiana.”
"IBM thanks Gov. John Bel Edwards for his leadership in bringing P-TECH to Louisiana," said Jennifer Ryan Crozier, president of the IBM International Foundation. "P-TECH, which IBM created in 2011, is an acclaimed education model that blends high school, college and career preparation, providing students with the strong academic and workplace skills they need to succeed in 21st century jobs. We believe that it gives its graduates an edge in a fast changing job market."
Dow's partnership with the West Baton Rouge Parish School System on P-TECH builds upon work it launched in 2015, on the Dow STEM Academy at both Port Allen and Brusly High Schools.
“We are proud to add a new dimension to our already significant investment,” said Tommy Faucheaux, Dow’s Government Affairs Leader. “With our trained Dow employee volunteers, known as STEM Ambassadors, combined with good teaching, we will help cultivate a diverse workforce well positioned to address the challenges of tomorrow.”
Through a Memorandum of Understanding, the CyberSTEM Academy will be co-located at Tara High School in East Baton Rouge and will work with IBM. Port Allen and Brusly High Schools in West Baton Rouge will work with Dow.
“This collaborative educational and workforce development initiative is the foundation of the work that our colleges do each day,” said Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. “We could not have asked for better partners than DOW Chemical, IBM, and the Department of Education. Today’s official announcement is great for all involved, but the long-term winners will be the students, their families, and the Louisiana economy. We are honored to help provide students with this tremendous opportunity.”
The model has demonstrated significant success and by this fall will have been implemented in approximately 120 schools in seven states and overseas. It addresses the need to equip more students with a postsecondary degree, along with in-demand academic, technical and professional skills to help meet the growing need for more qualified candidates for careers in a range of high growth fields.
“Louisiana schools have made it a priority to expand STEM-focused career and technical education and provide hands-on workplace experiences in high-demand industries to equip students with the necessary technical and soft skills to succeed after graduation,” said Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White. “The introduction of the P-TECH model to Louisiana builds on those efforts and ultimately gives students a leg up in the economy of today and tomorrow.”
In this innovative education model, public high schools collaborate with businesses and specific community college partners, enabling students to earn their high school diplomas and no-cost, economically relevant associate degrees within six years or less. The schools are managed within existing public education budgets, combining a strong academic program with workplace experiences that support students as they move from school, to college, to career. The program is open to all students.
“Next year will mark the beginning of the IBM P-TECH model at Tara High School where our first cohort of students will enter 9th grade and complete a variety of internships and dual enrollment courses. The ultimate goal is to have students graduating with an Associate Degree in Computer Science. We are excited about our partnership with IBM, BRCC, and the LDOE and look forward to the experiences and opportunities our students will have moving forward as they prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.”
“The P-TECH model will be an excellent next step for our Dow-STEM Academy in West Baton Rouge Parish,” said WBR Supt. Wes Watts. “It makes sense to provide our graduates with the skills that are vital to the Process Technology and Engineering fields with so many careers available right here in WBR. Creating more post-secondary opportunities for our students and developing a stronger work force for our local business and industry partners is a win-win.”
Businesses that are engaged with P-TECH schools provide students with mentorships, paid internships, and structured workplace visits -- as well as first-in-line consideration for job interviews for students who successfully complete the program. So far, more than 450 businesses of all sizes are participating; they represent information technology, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and finance.
At the first P-TECH school, which was launched in Brooklyn, NY in 2011, and paired with P-TECH founder IBM, more than half of the graduates have earned both their high school and associate degrees in information technology in six years or less. Their on-time community college completion rate is 400% higher than the national average and 500% higher than the rate for low-income students.
P-TECH students are primarily from underserved neighborhoods and many are the first in their family to graduate college. The vast majority of graduates go on to pursue bachelor's degrees and some go directly into the workforce, landing "new collar," well-paying jobs at companies like IBM.