New Pathways to Careers and College

Examples, Evidence, and Prospects

| Mary Visher, David Stern

The debate about high school reform is increasingly focused on the role of career-technical education (CTE) in helping to prepare all students for success in both postsecondary education and the workforce. The stand-alone vocational courses into which high school students with lower academic achievement were often channeled are becoming a thing of the past. Instead, programs that merge CTE, rigorous academic coursework, and career exploration opportunities, while creating clear pathways through high school, college, and beyond, are gaining momentum. This report describes some of the most prominent of these “pathway” models, identifies localities where the approach has gained the most traction, discusses the underlying principles that characterize the most promising  programs, and briefly presents the evidence of their potential to make a difference. The report concludes with a set of recommendations for future investment to strengthen and scale such programs.