Scans the field for effective college and career pathways programs, and compares common infrastructural elements and potential strengthening factors.

“In this report the term ‘college and career pathways’ — or ‘pathways’ for short — is used to refer to a range of models or approaches that attempt to create a clear path for students to follow to attain an educational and occupational goal, while learning the skills — sometimes called twenty-first century skills or transferable skills — they need to succeed in both domains. This report focuses on pathway programs that begin in high schools and sometimes extend beyond, to postsecondary education or training.

“The report begins with a short history of how pathways evolved from the relatively narrow occupational courses that dominated vocational education in high schools throughout most of the twentieth century to the more comprehensive models of today. Next, it describes the models and approaches identified in a recent scan of the field, noting the various principles, locations, and prevalence and any intermediaries that support them. The next section lists the core design principles of models and approaches that many believe to be the key ingredients of the most promising programs. Following this is a brief discussion of the efficacy of a subset of these programs for which rigorous evidence exists. The report concludes with a section addressing the factors or conditions that would enable the strengthening and expansion of pathways at the local level” (p.1).

(Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The authors identify the infrastructural elements that are required for pathways programs to thrive. These include: • “Strong support among leaders, from elected and appointed officials (such as mayors and state legislators) to school-level leaders (superintendents, principals) to business leaders • Passion for change that goes beyond a few outspoken individuals • Strong partnerships among districts, employers, and postsecondary institutions with a funded, experienced organization holding it all together • Strong intermediaries with a track record in launching and sustaining programs through technical assistance and other supports • Alignment with growing sectors that have jobs that pay family-supporting wages and offer opportunities for advancement • Strong state support, including an accountability system that rewards schools for making students ready for both college and careers “If these elements are in evidence in a community, the foundation for building out path-way options for high school students may have a higher probability of success. Many of these elements need resources to take root. Funding is most acutely needed to: • Build an infrastructure to form and sustain strong partnerships • Expand the capacity of intermediaries with a track record of success • Support quality professional development and technical assistance to help teachers, counselors, employment specialists, and school leaders perform effectively in these settings • Reach marginalized groups of students, such as those living in extreme poverty or in rural areas, and belonging to underrepresented racial and ethnic groups • Support use of web-based technologies to provide access to specialized curricula and facilitate employer engagement with student projects and work-based learning” (p.15-16). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)