Designed to excel: VSA’s identity for the newest P-TECH school

IBM’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) model has seen tremendous success in the two years since the launch of its eponymous school in Brooklyn. After countless articles and interviews, plus a State of the Union Address mention and visit from President Obama in 2013, the P-TECH program expanded to more schools and now sets the gold standard for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. And each school features identities created by VSA Partners.

The Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy is one of these schools, and one of five recent Chicago-area STEM programs. Started in 2012, it’s already delivering statistics as remarkable as the original P-TECH school: 45% of 10th grade students are already taking college-level calculus and pre-calculus courses and 94% of 9th grade students are on track to graduate, compared with a district average of 65%. These achievements—and many more—were unique enough to earn the Goode Academy a prominent place in the cover story in TIME’s current issue, “The School That Will Get You a Job,” by Rana Foroohar.

The upcoming Excelsior Academy in upstate New York is the next IBM-partnered school to open. Last fall, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an extensive public-private partnership with a number of in-demand industries such as IT, advanced manufacturing and healthcare, all focusing on STEM programs. Newburgh, NY was selected as the site for a school founded jointly by IBM, SUNY Orange and the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. When its inaugural school year starts in fall 2014, Excelsior Academy will admit 50 incoming freshmen, who will graduate with a high school diploma and an Associate in Applied Science degree in information technology within six years, and be first in line for jobs at IBM. 15 additional P-TECH schools, based in economic development regions and partnered with other tech companies, will also open across the state.

For VSA, this is an opportunity to provide another dimension to a long and fruitful relationship with IBM, and continue the work begun in 2012 in creating the original P-TECH identity. The Excelsior Academy identity is an eye-popping addition to previous identities in the P-TECH family, and an accelerant to hiring staff and enrolling students for the fall. “Students at both P-TECH in Brooklyn and at Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy in Chicago understand that they are pioneering a new model of education, and that many eyes are on them as this model continues to deliver on early promises and scale to other communities,” said Grace Suh, IBM Manager of Education Programs. “It’s been inspiring for the students, teachers and school leaders to have unique identities that help create a culture of college- and career-readiness. Prospective students at our latest school, Excelsior Academy, will be able to proudly display their school identity as they work hard to reach their education and career goals.”

TIME reports that more states are interested in establishing P-TECH schools, including Connecticut, and with President Obama’s pledge to invest $100 million in funding for further programs. Watch TIME’s video supplement to their cover story, “Is the Six-Year High School the Future of Education?” As the P-TECH program continues to grow in 2014 and beyond, you can stay updated on the latest news and articles at the IBM and P-TECH press kit page. Follow P-TECH and the Goode Academy on Twitter and stay tuned throughout 2014 as Excelsior Academy nears its opening.

* Taken from Model of Success: Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) at The Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program page.