New high school programs that merge career and technical education with rigorous academic courses to prepare students for both college and career are gaining momentum. But new research suggests more needs to be done to strengthen successful “pathways” in schools if the concept is truly going to take off.
The report released last month by the nonprofit research organization MDRC highlights successful college and career pathways in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Tennessee, where vocational programs have been transformed into comprehensive, full-time, academically rigorous high schools.
The authors note that, nationwide, the number of high school students in vocational education who also took academic coursework for college jumped from 28 percent in 1982 to 88 percent in 2000.
The report also identifies elements of promising pathways programs: options for students to choose themed pathways, personalized support in small learning communities, integrated curriculum, work-based learning, high standards and accountability, data-driven decisionmaking, district support, and strong partnerships with the community.
A version of this article appeared in the May 06, 2015 edition of Education Week as Career Technical Education