College & Workforce Readiness

Multiple Pathways: New York and California Styles

By Catherine Gewertz — July 20, 2009 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In a previous blog post, I reported on a big grant that went to California’s “multiple pathways” program, and said that New York City had “pioneered” that approach to high school education. Well, folks from ConnectEd, which leads California’s work in this area, reached out to politely set me straight.

They explained that the West Coast and East Coast approaches are distinctly different. At my request, they teamed up with the New York City Department of Education to write up a piece summarizing the two approaches. I thank them for this, and offer it to you for your edification.

In a handy little twist of fate, the Alliance for Excellent Education recently issued a policy brief profiling the California approach. Also, I wrote a story a couple of years ago on one of the elements of New York City’s multiple pathways work. UPDATE: is running a commentary on this issue as well.

Happy reading!

Here is the piece written for us by our bi-coastal multiple pathways team:

In California and New York City, “multiple pathways” mean quite different things. Both approaches serve high school students and offer academic and work-based learning components in their programs, but they differ in target populations, definitions, and core components:

Targeted Student Population:
— California multiple pathways are designed and appropriate for any student.
— New York City multiple pathway schools and programs are designed for students who are most at risk of dropping out—specifically, those students who are at least two years behind the credit accumulation expected for their age in order to graduate on time.

The Definition of “Pathway”:
— In California, “pathway” references a career pathway—engineering and construction, arts media and entertainment, biomedical and health sciences, among others—that contains academic, technical, work-based learning, and support services components. The program of study is designed around this theme.
— In New York City, “pathway” refers to alternative pathways to earning a high school diploma or GED. The multiple pathways to graduation in New York City include Transfer High Schools, Young Adult Borough Centers (YABCs), and GED programs.

Core Components:
— In California, programs integrate academic and technical components in school so that theoretical concepts learned in academic classes are coordinated and reinforced with hands-on activities in technical courses. Work-based learning compliments this work and focuses on the same industry theme as the academic and technical courses.
— In New York City, multiple pathways schools and programs are designed to re-engage those students who are most likely to drop out. Technical courses are not a primary component of multiple pathways in New York City. Job readiness and college exploration are integrated into New York City’s multiple pathways schools and programs through the Learning to Work (LTW) Initiative, which provides students with paid internships, academic and student support, and work preparation.

While the term “multiple pathways” refers to different programs in New York and California, recently New York City has begun to reform their approach to career and technical education (CTE) , and through this effort is developing schools and programs similar to the California definition. This work emerged from Mayor Bloomberg’s Task Force on CTE Innovation, whose final report and recommendations drew heavily on the California “career” pathways efforts.

Thank for for the opportunity to share this information!

—Gary Hoachlander, president, ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career
—Theresa Crotty, Interim Acting Executive Director of the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Multiple Pathways to Graduation, and Gregg Betheil, senior executive for Career and Technical Education

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School Connections blog.