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What's in a Pathway?

Is a "career pathway" essentially the same thing as the career and technical (CTE) "program of study" defined by the federal Perkins Act? Or should a pathway also include other elements such as academic courses braided with the CTE sequence, work-based learning (WBL), and student supports? These questions have been the subject of energetic discussion in California and elsewhere. A new paper on the CCASN website informs this discussion by summarizing existing evidence on how different kinds of pathways affect outcomes for students. The paper

  • reviews recent policy commitments to prepare students for “college and careers”;
  • explains how integrating college and career preparation solves a long-standing dilemma for high schools;
  • summarizes evidence on student benefits from integrated pathways that blend college and career coursework with work-based learning (WBL) and student supports;
  • reviews evidence on high school CTE, which indicates that a CTE sequence by itself does not produce as much benefit for students as pathways that combine CTE with college-prep coursework along with WBL and student supports; and
  • concludes that extra effort to implement integrated pathways can be justified by the additional benefits for students.