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The P-TECH Model is grounded in a commitment to partnerships and shared decision-making.
A P-TECH school relies on developing and sustaining healthy partnerships with and among the school district, community college and one or more local industry. Successful partnerships are characterized by shared responsibility and decision-making, close collaboration and honest communication.
Driving the Strategic Direction
The school leader, or principal, leads the effort to ensure that students will meet the P-TECH Model’s rigorous goals of ensuring that students graduate ready for both college and a career with their high school diploma and an industry-recognized, two-year postsecondary degree.
The High School Partner provides resources afforded to other public schools and ensures successful start-up and ongoing implementation. The Community College Partner ensures adequate administrative and faculty resources to support student learning at the college level. The Industry Partner identifies critical workplace skills and provides experiences for students to graduate career-ready.
Individually, each partner assumes responsibility for student success. Together, the partners shape the structure and culture of a P-TECH school.
This work is primarily accomplished through a formal steering committee that drives the strategic direction of a P-TECH school. Planning committees focused on specific issues such as curriculum development further support the focus on shared decision-making.
School districts that develop a P-TECH 9-14 school are ready to rethink
traditional patterns of student enrollment, staffing, curriculum.
The P-TECH Steering Committee is a decision-making body made up of representatives from each partner.
The first task of the Steering Committee is to develop a shared vision that will serve as a guide throughout the planning and implementation of the P-TECH school. Once the vision is established, the Steering Committee focuses on key strategic decisions that include:
- Scope & Sequence
- Student recruitment and retention
- Appropriate technology
- Student supports
- Workplace Learning
As the school moves from conception to reality, all partners may easily agree on the high-level components of the model. However, the details of that vision — and how to realize it — may be interpreted differently among the partners. The committee’s guiding vision will serve as a common thread throughout most of the school’s planning activities.
Key Elements of Steering Committees
- Demonstrated Commitment: Designate responsible parties for each decision, to accommodate the variety of expertise and perspectives at the table.
- Regular Meetings: Meet frequently during the planning stage, and monthly or bi-monthly once the school gets under way.
- Shared Decision-Making: Ensure all committee members have input into the agenda. Decisions should take into account each stakeholder’s input, though there should be mechanisms in place to ensure that issues do not get lost in endless discussions.
- Consistent Processes: Establish clear procedures for providing timely feedback and making decisions.
The school leader, or principal, is the guiding force of a P-TECH school and has the challenge of realizing an innovative vision by providing leadership for all components of the school.
This includes the structures and supports needed to meet the P-TECH Model’s rigorous goals of ensuring that students graduate ready for college or a career with both their high school diploma and an industry-recognized, two-year postsecondary degree.
While each district has its own processes and criteria for selecting a school leader, the ideal leader should have the capacity to open a new school, a track record of leading high student achievement, particularly in STEM areas and with underserved populations. In addition, the leader should be passionate about and experienced working with partners and share a deep understanding of and commitment to the model and its goals.
Key elements of instructional leadership:
- Demonstrated capacity to drive exceptional student outcomes
- Dedicated to working with underserved students and their families
- Able to communicate a strong pedagogical vision to staff
- Can provide effective feedback to teachers about their instruction
- Knows how to establish systems and structures to support a reflective, collaborative professional community
- Demonstrated experience providing high-quality professional development
- Demonstrates a commitment to learning
- Demonstrated ability to think about time and the school day in original and practical ways
Key elements of managerial skills:
- Accomplished educational and career background
- Effective communication style
- Able to empower staff and distribute leadership by establishing shared decision making processes
- Demonstrated ability to identify appropriate systems to establish expectations and monitor the quality of the curriculum and the student experience
- Proven ability to work well with the local school authority
Key elements that demonstrate an understanding the P-TECH Model:
- Ability to establish a college-going school culture
- Ability to foster curricular coherence and strategies for integrating the college and high school experience
- Recognize the challenges and opportunities of the model, and ability to identify strategies for addressing those challenges
- Demonstrated experience working with partners on complex projects
Capacity to plan a new school:
- Proven vision of and passion for starting a new school — including teacher recruitment and support, curriculum planning, instruction and assessment, and developing school culture
- Critical thinking skills with ability to pull together all the pieces of the development process to form a coherent whole
Planning committees drive specific activities for their P-TECH schools. For example, a Planning Committee could be charged with researching and presenting aspects of the school curriculum. It may, for example, provide the first iteration of the Scope & Sequence.
What you need to know about Planning Committees:
- Demonstrated Commitment: Should include members of the Steering Committee who are empowered to make decisions.
- Regular Meetings: Should meet on at least a weekly basis during school development.
- Clear Tasks: Responsible for taking specific actions, which could include vetting curricular resources, reviewing possible assessments or identifying a technology platform.
- Consistent Processes: Establish clear procedures for making decisions and bringing more significant issues to the full Steering Committee for review.
The Advisory Board provides expert advice and supports to help inform, broaden and enrich the workplace learning elements of the school.
Industry professionals working in the school’s specific industry focus typically comprise the Advisory Board. While the lead Industry Partner for the school takes on the yeoman’s job of career-readiness activities, Advisory Board members, as representatives of companies, can help provide mentors, work site visits, speakers and/or internships. This is key, not only as the number of students grows, but also to give students a wider view of the industry and its opportunities.
Collaboration among all partners fosters an integrated and seamless learning experience for students.
Each educator brings a unique perspective and expertise that can strengthen the educational experience for students. College educators possess extensive content knowledge and understand the necessary skills for college success. They can help incoming students better prepare for exams, manage time, and work independently. Likewise, high school teachers offer valuable experience designing student-centered lessons, managing a classroom, and providing sufficient leadership for adolescents.
Comprehensive and integrated high school and college curriculum design is one area where this shared decision-making is vital. High school and college faculty need opportunities to meet with one another to align course expectations, ensure that content and terminology is consistent across high school and college courses, and further develop and refine the curriculum.
In addition, college professors must help high school teachers prepare their students to meet college requirements. High school and college faculty in each subject area collaborate on the design of the courses, so that complexity builds over time and each course lays the groundwork for the next in a seamless and supported way. It is essential that high school faculty understand the expectations and content of the college courses, so they can align their instruction and prepare students to overcome barriers to success. Likewise, Industry Partners can help with course design by identifying authentic questions and challenges for project-based learning in core academic courses.
Industry Partners also help school leaders, teachers and college faculty better understand how to prepare their students for the workplace. For instance, spending at least a couple of weeks in an industry setting can help a school leader develop a deeper understanding of current and emerging needs within a specific field. Teachers with opportunities to participate in externships or job shadowing gain a clearer understanding of the environment their students will face and the skills they will need.