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Plans to Offer P-TECH Education in Texas Take Shape

Calling it a "revolution" in education, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Friday laid out plans for what he called a "statewide model" for Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH. The idea is focused on targeting workforce-ready partnerships between K-12, higher education and industry.

The program has been growing and allows students to earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in six years with a much higher rate of completion.

Speaking at Lone Star College in Houston, Patrick said students will benefit from the guidance of business community mentors and graduates of the program will be first in line for interviews for good-paying jobs. The effort, Patrick said, is meant to build on sweeping education reforms passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013 under House Bill 5, which created multiple pathways for students to earn a high school diploma.

"It is the next important step that we will take toward preparing our students for careers and not just college," Patrick said.

After noting that there are roughly 6 million students in Texas – a number that grows by about 80,000 per year – Patrick said lawmakers have decided a one size fits all approach to education will not work. “There was a unanimous voice that said every student didn't necessarily need to be on the same track," Patrick said.

Sandy Dochen, IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Manager said that the “national education model developed by IBM is already increasing college completion rates and seeing its graduates obtain good paying jobs.”

P-TECH is already in six states, Dochen said, and added that “given IBM’s strong ties here, we are committed to launching P-TECH schools in the great state of Texas.”

“One of the most effective ways to prepare today’s youth for the high demand jobs of tomorrow is through early college high school programs like P-TECH,” said Dr. Steve Head, Chancellor of Lone Star College. “Our existing high school partnerships have helped tens of thousands of students get a head start on their college education and their careers, and the P-TECH program has the potential to open up these opportunities and support critical workforce needs in Texas,” he said.

Peter Beard, Senior Vice President of Regional Workforce Development at the Greater Houston Partnership, said the significant difference that this program brings to the table is the degree to which collaboration takes place between educators and their future employers. "What we're talking about today is how do we prepare the workforce that's going to drive our future," Beard said.

"Young people need pathways," Beard said. "P-TECH is the ideal and brings the best elements of high school, of community college, and the business community together in a very impactful way that can actually transform our workforce," he said.

In the 2:48 min clip below, Sandy Dochen tells Construction Citizen a little more about the P-TECH program: