NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk will be home to Connecticut’s first six-year academy that will allow students to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in applied sciences, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced Friday at Norwalk Community College.
The program will be called the Norwalk Early College Academy. It will be a Pathways in Technology Early College High School program offered through Norwalk schools, Norwalk Community College and IBM. Students will complete Grades 9 through 14 in an integrated program of high school classes and cost-free college classes, as well as job training, internships and mentoring programs at IBM. Students who graduate from the program will be first in line for jobs at IBM.
“We want degrees in the state of Connecticut. We want a prepared workforce, and we’re going to do everything we can to bring that about,” Malloy said. “Today we talk about IBM’s P-TECH model. It is one such initiative that connects high school, college and industry to ensure that students are both college and career-ready.”
The program will begin in September at Norwalk High School with an initial class of 100 students. Students will be selected through a lottery system, and the program will add an additional 100 students every year.
IBM has launched P-TECH programs in New York City and Chicago with much success, IBM Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs Stanley Litow said.
“This is not a traditional high school,” Litow said. “What we do is back-end all of the entry-level skills for jobs at IBM and embed them into the curriculum, so when students are taking ninth grade math or 10th grade social studies or 11th grade physics, it's taught in the context of strong, powerful academics and the workplace skills that are needed to be successful.”
Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said too many students are required to take remedial courses when they arrive at college.
“We need to pave the pathway for college for our young people,” Pryor said. “This is essential, and we have the opportunity here to truly create an exemplar.”
It is the job of educators to teach students skills and knowledge with real-world relevance, Norwalk High School Principal Reginald Roberts said.
“The reason I am most impressed with this collaboration, this partnership is because you can’t get anywhere in life without collaboration and relevance. If the students don’t understand what it means and why it means something, it means nothing,” Roberts said.
Malloy said he will begin discussions with more industries to create similar programs in other parts of Connecticut.
“It makes too much sense not to replicate it across the state,” he said.