Best practices from 8 states offering new, scalable pathways to a career-specific degree.

path-road-modelsEight states have released innovative best practices for other states and local areas interested in helping students land careers after postsecondary education. The Network of states’ practices are unique in that they offer a standard model of how to create this increasingly needed pipeline.

The Pathways to Prosperity Network, an initiative of Jobs for the Future (JFF) and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, began three years ago in an effort to help more students enter not only postsecondary education, but full-time jobs that directly help companies fill critical positions.

According to the report, only one in three “young people” obtains a four-year degree by age 25—and roughly 30 percent of the job openings projected over the next decade require some education beyond high school, but not necessarily a four-year degree.

And according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation’s youth employment rates have plummeted over the last 15 years, declining to their lowest levels since the 1930s.

Though there have been many local initiatives by states to help students become career-ready—such as the Linked Learning approach in over 70 districts in California (as well as Houston and Detroit), the National Academy Foundation’s career academies serving 60,000 students nationwide, and the California Partnership Academies model of 462 career academies—“none of these models does so systemically across whole districts, let alone across entire high schools,” explains the report.

“Unfortunately, the larger the number of students to be served with an experience-based approach that expands and rethinks learning time and place in the high school years, the less consistently the appropriate experiences are available,” it continues.

The Network aims to develop a ‘gold-standard’ model for states, and the report identifies a series of lessons learned and policy recommendations that can be useful to states and communities that seek to expand education and career-readiness options.

(Next page: Lessons learned from 8 models)