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.
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.