About a year and a half ago I blogged about the extremely poor Regents scores of one of the most touted high schools in the country, Pathways in Technology Early College High School — or more widely known as P-Tech.

P-Tech even got a shout out in one of President Obama’s State of The Union addresses.

At the time I was using data provided by the New York City Department of Education which revealed that only 2% of the P-Tech students who had taken the Geometry Regents had passed it and also 2% passing rate for Algebra II.  This was picked up by ChalkBeatNY and pretty soon I was in a Twitter war with P-Tech defenders including Joel Klein, who featured P-Tech in his memoir about his experience as head of NYC schools.

The reason that their passing percent was so low, they said, was that they force all the 9th graders and 10th graders to take the 11th grade Algebra II test to get exposure to it.  Since NYC didn’t report the number of test takers, just the passing percent, this was, it seemed at first, a pretty good excuse, though I argued that even if the percent would have been higher without all the underclassmen taking the test as practice, it would have only been a little higher, maybe 6%, so it was still pretty bad.

I recently followed up on my P-Tech research and found that New York State has revamped their data page extensively.  Now all the data including the number of test takers is all available with a very user friendly interface.  The P-Tech state data page can be found here.

I’m focusing on Algebra II since P-Tech is an engineering school where students attend for six years to earn a high school degree and an associates degree and a job offer from IBM.  Since Algebra II is taken by advanced 10th graders I figure that P-Tech should be able to get a good percent of their students to eventually pass this test.

The first thing I checked was their 2014 scores last year again.  They had 128 students take that test, which went against their claim that they made all their freshmen and sophomores take the test.  If that were the case, it should have been about 300 test takers.  In 2014 only two students passed that test with a score over 65 and four other students got between a 55 and a 65.  Pretty brutal — but not as bad as how they did a year later.

In the most recent Regents administered last June, P-Tech decided to only allow the students who were most likely to pass the test, knowing that making too many unprepared students take the test would affect their passing percent.  So last year only 41 students took the Algebra II Regents.  Of those 41 students exactly one student passed and one other scored between 55 and 65.  That’s it.  The 39 other students all failed with scores under a 55.

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Still P-Tech gets a lot of undeserved good PR.  Less than a year ago US News and World Report ran an article called ‘Proving P-Tech Success’ because 6 students finished the 6 year program in just 4 years.  According to this article in Education Week, there are already 27 P-Tech franchises in 3 states with $3 million going toward six new P-Techs in New York.  The article says there will soon be 40 P-Techs.  I suppose if each of those 40 P-Techs gets one student to pass the Algebra II Regents, that would add up to 40 kids.


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8 Responses to P-Blecch

  1. Michael Fiorillo says:

    Why, this is obviously one of those “miracle schools” that so-called reformers love to tell us about, so please don’t trouble us with facts.

  2. Thanks Gary – you know that I’ve tried to be vocal about this since day 1.

    I also like looking a the Geometry numbers. Since so many schools do the 2 years for Algebra 1, Geometry is usually disastrous. The kids have half the time for a MUCH more rigorous course.
    Since it’s also supposed to be a course about deductive reasoning, the results can also be telling.

    I don’t doubt that the principal and his team will ride this scam on up to some higher level scam next time round.

  3. Pingback: Gary Rubinstein: The P-Tech Disaster | Diane Ravitch's blog

  4. john Fager says:

    Joel Klein the technology “expert.” I guess he learned it in the anti-trust division of the Dept of Justice. He survived so long at the DOE because the scores kept going up from 2007 to 2009. It got the mayor an invitation to the White to tell Obama that NYC had the “blueprint” for raising student achievement and reducing the racial achievement gap. Of course it all fell apart one year later because the state hired Koretz to discover that the cut scores had been lowered by the state. Klein was unexpected on his way out when the scores tumbled after the tests were made more difficult and the cut scores were restored.
    Klein was also held accountable when Murdoch and News Corp had to write off almost $300 million loss when Amplify went under with Joel at the helm. Some foolish health company start up hired Klein for his expertise. I’m waiting to read about Klein’s next failure. But nothing will make up for the damage he did to children, teachers, and education while heading the NYC DOE.
    It is nice to know that justice sometimes catches up with people like Klein.

  5. Cleo says:

    Do you know the percentage of students that did not pass the NYS regents, but have now gone on to pass college level math courses? Do you know the significance of the number 6? You are misleading people with the limited data you are publishing in your blog. You are misinformed.

    • Do you, do you?
      You miss the point, which is that PTech gets pumped up as an example of the success of the professional education reform crowd.

    • B says:

      What are you trying to say? Why not back up your rhetorical questions with real info? What is the significance of the number 6 (other than being larger than 5)? And please tell us how many PTech students passed calculus in college (calculus being the standard freshman level college math course) without passing the Algebra 2 math Regent. I suspect the answer to that question is “0.”

  6. Pingback: Are P-TECH Students College Ready? | Gary Rubinstein's Blog

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