Explores the Miami-Dade County Public Schools career pathways strategy through site visits at three schools, and provides policy considerations for communities implementing or improving career pathways to help students succeed in the workforce and better meet employer needs.

“In order to help federal policymakers and national education leaders better understand how to develop a career pathways system, [American Youth Policy Forum] AYPF staff and a group of national leaders visited Miami-Dade County Public Schools, renowned for its commitment to providing students with multiple pathways to success. Their career pathway efforts center around programs of study which build students’ competencies in core academic and career areas and provide the opportunity to earn postsecondary and workforce credentials. This work relies on strong partnerships between Miami-Dade County Public Schools, higher education institutions, business leaders, and community organizations….

Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) is the fifth largest school district in the nation with over 350,000 students….Of the total student population, 106,000 attend schools with career and technical education (CTE) programs, including 56 National Academy Foundation (NAF) Academies and 246 Career and Professional Education (CAPE) Academies.

Career pathways in Miami fall into seven major industry categories and are based on employer demands as indicated by the One Community, One Goal initiative of the Beacon Council, the economic development organization in Miami-Dade County. Students in career academies do particularly well: 98% of students in NAF academies graduate, and 93% indicate that they plan to attend college. M-DCPS programs also help students earn certifications in over 100 occupational areas, many of which are linked with college credit” (p.1).

“The district partners closely on career pathways with two local public universities: Miami Dade College (MDC) and Florida International University (FIU). These colleges provide the vast majority of dual enrollment offerings in the district through articulation agreements with M-DCPS, and they each promote career pathways….In addition…[local workforce agencies and other organizations] provide additional career pathways support by facilitating student-employer connections….Collectively, these efforts have paved the way for strong and vibrant career pathways, which were on display at three M-DCPS schools [the authors] visited” (p.1-2): Miami Lakes Educational Center and Technical College, Hialeah Gardens High School, and George T. Baker Aviation Technical College.

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff).

Major Findings & Recommendations

After providing a brief description of the career pathway programs at each school, the authors highlighted “a few key features of career pathways in Miami” (p.3): “Early career exploration….In middle school, students receive career exploration opportunities and counseling courses to ensure they are aware of a variety of career options and [career pathways]….. Once students have decided on a pathway and arrive on a high school campus, they are better prepared to be immersed in a program of study” (p.3-4). “Strong partnerships with postsecondary and workforce institutions….Through partnerships with several local colleges and universities…schools allow students to earn college credit and industry certifications by taking dual enrollment courses or by participating in on-the-job training….M-DCPS has created a…system in which students can…be matched with work-based learning activities and compensated internships” (p.4). “College and career emphasized in school curriculum and culture….Above all, these schools work to ensure that students are provided with the competencies and credentials needed to succeed in whatever future path is best for them: postsecondary education, employment, or both. These career pathway programs provide not only relevant academic coursework…but also opportunities to work directly with employers” (p.4). Policy considerations outlined by authors: “Facilitate partnerships….States can play an important role in enabling and strengthening these partnerships by providing guidance, technical assistance, training, and by sharing best practices with and between localities….Districts can also incorporate employer partners into advisory boards and committees to help inform decision-making….Additionally, school districts or intermediaries can promote…the sharing of data so that schools are aware of what postsecondary institutions and employers need” (p.5). “Allow for flexibility to better serve students….If Perkins dollars could be used for 6th graders, these students could benefit from earlier career exploration…. Another suggestion…was that federal policy should place a broad emphasis on promoting equity, while allowing for local flexibility, rather than requiring all…programs to hit specific numeric targets for participation” (p.5). “Use Perkins funds to promote innovation….[It is] worth considering whether to expand the definition of what qualifies for Perkins funding to allow for more innovation” (p.6). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)