Provides examples of community colleges offering dual enrollment career pathways bridges for basic skills students, explains why such models may be beneficial for both students and community colleges, and offers advice for community colleges hoping to start offering this type of integrated education themselves.

“Students forced to complete a long sequence of remedial or English language classes before they can begin their postsecondary program rarely earn college certificates or degrees. This brief [published in 2011] highlights six promising programs [in Wisconsin, Washington, Texas, Oregon, Minnesota, and Illinois] that show how career pathway bridges help lower-skilled students move farther and faster along college and career paths through dual enrollment in linked basic skills and occupational certificate courses. Because creating such bridges requires collaboration across college silos, they can also transform the way colleges operate.

Career pathways provide a framework for mapping education and job opportunities in an industry or occupational cluster. They offer a series of education and training programs and support services that enable individuals to get jobs in specific industries and advance over time by successfully completing higher levels of education and work. Career pathways provide a way for colleges to give students more clarity and structure in occupational programs.

‘Career pathway bridges,’ a term coined by Wisconsin’s technical colleges, are an extension of the career pathways concept, but are designed specifically to meet the needs of lower-skilled adults and youth. These bridges provide targeted basic skills or English language help to lower-skilled students to enable them to enter and succeed in career pathways. While there are many variations of career pathways bridge models, they share some common elements” (p.1). These elements include combining “basic skills and career-technical content,” contextualizing basic skills, changing “how classes are delivered,” supporting student success, and connecting “to local employer and community needs” (p.1-2).

The brief summarizes the career pathways programs South Texas College, Lake Land College, Portland Community College, Lower Columbia College, Western Technical College, and Saint Paul Public Schools Adult Basic Education.

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Full publication title: Farther, Faster: Six Promising Programs Show How Career Pathway Bridges Help Basic Skills Students Earn Credentials that Matter

Major Findings & Recommendations

The brief provides examples community colleges across the United States offering dual enrollment career pathways bridges for basic skills students. It finds advantages of offering this type of integrated basic skills education for both students and the community colleges. For students, the brief finds that: “Dual enrollment career pathway bridges enable basic skills students to begin earning a postsecondary occupational credential right away, without having to first complete a sequence of adult basic education, English language, and developmental education services…Dual enrollment career pathway bridges offer two key advantages over traditional, sequential approaches to remediation: • Students can immediately see how their basic skills class work will help them succeed in their postsecondary programs and, ultimately, in their careers. The basic skills curriculum is contextualized to the occupational content covered in the postsecondary coursework. Often students use the same technical textbooks and technical manuals with the basic skills instructor as they use with the CTE [career-technical education] instructor. • Students can enter a program of study from the very beginning of their postsecondary experience while still receiving support to improve their basic skills. New research shows that the sooner students enter a program of study, the more likely it is that they will complete a certificate or degree or transfer to a four-year institution” (p.3). The brief also finds the following advantages of offering dual enrollment career pathways bridges for community colleges: “When career pathway bridges use dual enrollment and link basic skills and CTE curriculum and learning outcomes, they transform the way community colleges operate. This occurs because these bridges: • Engage instructors and administrators from basic skills (both ABE/ESL and developmental education), CTE, and student services in joint efforts to continually align bridge curriculum, instruction, and support services behind student success. • Bring basic skills students into the mainstream of colleges in a way that makes them visible and valued as contributors to overall college success” (p.11). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)