Strengthening Transitions by Encouraging Career Pathways
In order to be economically self-sufficient, youth need some education beyond high school. Nonetheless, persisting in college and earning a credential is difficult for many students. To facilitate students’ transitions into college and careers, policymakers and practitioners are attempting to find ways of connecting formerly separate facets of the education system. One such effort is the establishment of P-16 (preschool through postsecondary) commissions in 30 states (National Governors Association, n.d.), whose goal is to reconceptualize education as a pathway spanning high school, college, and the workplace. Attention is also being paid to the integration of academic and occupational preparation in order to increase the rigor of career and technical education (CTE) and to make stronger connections to high-wage, highgrowth occupations. At the federal level, these goals are encouraged by proposed changes to a key funding stream for career and technical education, the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Act. The federal government seeks vocational education reform in keeping with its emphasis on higher academic standards and accountability. These changes will encourage the refinement of CTE programs in occupations that require postsecondary credentials, to ensure both rigorous academics and a smooth secondary-to-postsecondary transition. Perkins funding may be an impetus for reform, but states must address the ways that their own systems of education support these goals. States need to rethink the structure and focus of the educational pipeline, including the relationships between high schools and colleges, academic and applied courses, and educational credentials and the labor market.
This Brief summarizes a report prepared to assist the U.S. Department of Education’s College and Career Transitions Initiative (CCTI). The report presents a sample of state-level policies and legislation that support the implementation of career pathways and other strategies that facilitate educational and employment transitions. Data gathering for the investigation consisted of interviews with CCTI site contacts and other experts in education and workforce development, and web searches for information on legislation and regulation pertaining to career pathways.
Reprinted with the permission of the Education Resources Information Center.
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