As the founding principal of Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn, Rashid Davis has not just tinkered around the margins of the course access problem – he’s taken a hammer to it.

More than 1 in 3 Black students are enrolled in Physics, placing the school in the top 25 of schools with at least 50 Black students for Black student enrollment in Physics.

Every P-TECH student has an opportunity to pursue a STEM-related associate’s degree at no cost. In order to earn their high school and associate’s degrees, however, students need to move quickly into advanced coursework after starting at the school, something that can be difficult when some students are not on grade level when they start high school.

To give students the best chance of being successful, Davis reconfigured the 9th-grade schedule several years ago, removing social studies and science to allow students to become stronger in core subjects such as reading, writing, and math. The hope is that students will pass the English and Algebra Regents exams at the end of their freshman year and, by 11th grade, be in college-level math.

The school opened in 2011, and more than two-thirds of its students identify as Black males. So far, more than 140 (143 June 2015-December 2019) P-TECH students have graduated college with STEM-related degrees, and 29 graduates have gone on to work for the school’s industry partner, IBM.

“What we are trying to do is to go from college ready to college completion,” Davis said. “I would say we are adding a great model for the country that is now majority/minority students in public education.”