Pathway from poverty: Pioneering program helps low-income children get degrees, IBM jobs
Last week, about 40 students from P-TECH first cohort, now 10th-graders, took college placement exams for math. The students met in a large classroom outside Davis's office for a pep talk before taking the exams. As they snacked on bagels and juice, Davis encouraged them to do their best on the placement tests.
"You are some of the only 10th-graders in this city to be in a position to receive college credit," their dreadlocked school principal said. "We are so proud of you all."
One boy, whose face was tense and ashen, raised his hand. "Mr Davis," he asked, "what if we don't pass?"
"You need to believe in yourself," said Davis. "We want you to do the best you can, but if you don't pass then we'll get together and make a plan to improve."
Though half of the school's first class of ninth-graders scored below proficiency on math and English exams when they entered the school in 2011, the P-TECH curriculum caught them up quickly. By the end of the school year, 76 of the 102 students passed New York's college-readiness tests for English and integrated algebra. Many are now taking college-level STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) courses. Attendance is at 94 percent, despite the long commutes many of the students face, summer sessions and longer-than-average school days.
Trudon is in the second class of ninth-graders to enter P-TECH, which brought the total number of students at the school to 238. There will be 600 students in the school eventually, in grades 9 through 14. Trudon looks forward to experiences he hears about from the first cohort of P-TECH students, this year's 10th-graders. They've built websites, learned about robotics and done simple computer programming. With rewards like that to look forward to, Trudon said he will gladly slog his way through all kinds of math and science classes.
That's how Trudon Exter sees the pathway he is on.
"I still don't like it," he said, referring to the extra hours he spends at school preparing for the Regents exams. "But I do it, because there is going to be a big payoff one day."