Focusing on Career


Focusing on Career

This post is written by eScholar, a Gold Level sponsor of the 2019 Advance CTE Spring Meeting.
Students want careers they are excited about. Once they know the careers that excite them, they want the most effective pathways to succeed in those careers. CTE pathways start earlier and lead to many rewarding careers. The challenge is to show a wide variety of students that CTE programs can launch them directly toward numerous careers and provide a running start toward an infinite number of others.  We know that with successful CTE programs students have lower dropout rates, higher test scores, higher graduation rates, higher postsecondary enrollment rates, and higher earnings than students who do not enroll in CTE offerings. The key is to show students the short- and long-term benefits and provide constant feedback and guidance about where their pathway can take them.
The goal of CTE in your state is to enable the delivery of achievement in not only academics but also in career-readiness through connected systems within the state. That means strengthening pathways based on actual education and workforce experience data. Some of the most economically successful states are making strides in these areas today. The data is clear.   

What are some of the leading states doing to deliver these benefits?

  • States, including Texas and Pennsylvania, are leveraging their longitudinal data systems to link anonymized data across the entire pathway, including K12, postsecondary, and workforce data.
  • They are analyzing how to show students the path toward their goals. Pathway analytics can show students real paths towards their goals and how to meet their individual circumstances.
  • In Texas, they are managing one of the country’s most comprehensive longitudinal data system, which includes CTE experiences, postsecondary and workforce goals. This enables analysis of pathways, comparing desired and actual outcomes.
  • They are developing strong employer partnerships, to ensure students are attaining educations that make them ready for the workforce.
  • States like New Mexico are providing real career exposure to students and showing them many opportunities in different fields through New Mexico Career Pathways.  

When a state is able to execute on all of these best practices, they deliver evidence-based CTE programs that ensure workforce-ready graduates.
At eScholar, we have long been focused on providing data-driven pathways that provide a clear scope and sequence for students to achieve their goals in any career cluster. It’s a unique approach. The eScholar Pathways Project analyzes the educational and career pathways of millions of individuals to evaluate the effectiveness of individual pathways to educational and career goals.  This project has also analyzed billions of educational and career experiences for millions of anonymized individuals to identify effective pathways to degrees and careers. The experiences analyzed include course taking, extracurriculars, interventions and employment and wage data.
By taking this approach, a state can provide strategic and tactical insight for both organizations and individuals. If a school district is interested in expanding its CTE program, it can use pathway analyses to determine how to design its curriculum. An individual can review a pathway report to select the best courses that are most highly associated with goal success. A guidance counselor can use a pathway report to provide more precise advice on when a student should take a certain course.
We are not the first ones to examine course-taking patterns and goal attainment. Clifford Adelman’s book Answers in the Tool Box: Academic Intensity, Attendance Patterns, and
Bachelor’s Degree Attainment found that academic intensity and the quality of one’s high school curriculum are the most significant factors in bachelor’s degree attainment. However, taking an expanded approach with the eScholar Pathways Project, we can analyze not just courses, but experiences. We can also analyze pathways for outcomes beyond bachelor’s degrees, including associate degrees, advanced degrees, and career outcomes.  
We are still conducting research and development on our pathways design, but so far, it has shown a striking amount of promise and the ability to take state and local CTE programs to the next level.
What are your thoughts on this? What initiatives is your state taking to elevate its CTE program?
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