Explains how states can increase and use interactive pathway evaluator tools to understand which career pathways lead to the best labor market outcomes for different population groups; and uses examples from the Integrated-Basic Education and Skills Training program in Washington and the Workforce Data Quality Initiative in Texas, as career pathway strategies that rely on people’s ability to access multiple services.

“Career pathways are a key strategy for helping students, jobseekers and workers…prepare for middle-skill jobs....This report explains how states can create and use ‘pathway evaluator’ tools to better understand what pathways achieve the best labor market outcomes for which groups of people.

Pathway evaluator tools answer questions policymakers have about how their state’s array of skills programs help a diversity of students and workers earn credentials and get jobs. These questions include: Do people with different needs have sufficient access to appropriate programs? What pathways achieve the best employment and earnings outcomes for which groups of people? With this information in hand, policymakers can create career pathway strategies that align the state’s mix of education, training, and support service programs to prepare individuals with different needs for middle-skill jobs” (p.2).

“Pathway evaluators show different ‘pathways’ or patterns of participation across programs and the credential and labor market outcomes associated with them. They can show these pathways and outcomes for a particular population of interest so that policymakers can determine which combination of services works best for that group. With answers to these questions, policymakers can ensure that skills programs work together to equitably and efficiently prepare students and workers with different needs for employment or advancement into middle-skill jobs.

This paper discusses the basic pieces of information necessary to create pathway evaluators, including: choosing populations of interest; defining cross-program participation; and identifying shared outcomes. It also describes the data systems required to create pathway evaluators and the policy issues that must be addressed to support such data systems. It explains how pathway evaluators can be used to inform career pathway policies and practices, providing examples from Washington State and Texas. While pathway evaluator findings thus far have mostly been presented in a static, report format, this paper describes the next generation of pathway evaluator tools that are web-based and interactive. This paper concludes with a list of considerations for policymakers and analysts who want to create pathway evaluator tools” (p.3).

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