Public Schools of North Carolina
June 20, 2012
to Create New"Pathways to Prosperity" for High School
Of the approximately 91,000 North Carolina high school students
who received their diplomas this spring, more than three-fourths
say they plan to move on to a two- or four-year college or university.
But by the time they reach their mid-twenties, only about half
of them will have earned a college degree if past trends continue.
There are many reasons for this, but the college completion
rate speaks to the need for alternative pathways to help young
people prepare for their future success.
February 2011, the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE)
released Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing
Young Americans for the 21st Century, which challenges the premise
that all students should seek a four-year college degree. The
report argues that we need to create additional pathways that
combine rigorous academics with strong technical education to
equip young people with the skills and credentials to succeed
in an increasingly competitive labor market.
enormous interest generated by the Pathways report has led to
the launch of the Pathways to Prosperity Network, a collaboration
between HGSE, Jobs for the Future (JFF) and six states (including
North Carolina) committed to ensuring that many more young people
complete high school, attain a postsecondary credential with
value in the labor market, and get launched on a career while
leaving open the prospect of further education.
accomplish this goal, the North Carolina State Board of Education
will engage with employers and educators to build career pathways
systems for high school students. Each state will be led by
a coalition of key public and private sector leaders committed
to mobilizing and sustaining political and financial support
for the agenda and addressing legislative or regulatory barriers
that inhibit progress. The work will initially focus on the
northeast and southeast regions of North Carolina, but the long-term
goal is to create a statewide system of career pathways that
can serve a majority of students.
Carolina young people need a variety of opportunities to prepare
themselves for careers and to successfully transition to adulthood,"
said Bill Harrison, chairman of the State Board of Education.
"Pathways to Prosperity offers students an enhanced alternative
to traditional community college or university preparation."
Marshall, president of AT&T North Carolina and co-chairwoman
of a leadership team for the Pathways initiative, said the effort
promises to benefit students and the state's economy.
wins when business and industry join with public schools and
higher education to create a seamless approach to graduating
students ready for careers and equipped with the skills required
for success," said Marshall. Jeff Corbett, a senior vice
president of Progress Energy, will join Marshall as co-chairman
of the leadership team.
states that have joined the Pathways to Prosperity Network are
Maine, Missouri and Tennessee. This multi-state, multi-year
initiative is managed by Jobs for the Future and co-led by Robert
Schwartz, Pathways report co-author and HGSE Professor of Practice,
and Nancy Hoffman, vice-president and senior advisor at JFF.
recent adoption by most states of the Common Core standards
represents long-overdue recognition of the need for a more uniform
national academic currency," said JFF's Hoffman. "The
Common Core is supposed to signal college and career readiness,
but career' has not received the attention it needs, especially
given college costs and the demands of the 21st century economy."
is long past time that we broaden the range of high quality
pathways that we offer to our young people, beginning in high
school," added Schwartz. "The lessons from other countries
strongly suggest that this might be the single most promising
strategy for greatly increasing the percentage of young adults
who earn a post-secondary degree or credential that prepares
them to embark on a meaningful career."
State Board of Education has engaged JFF to provide technical
assistance to help them carry out this work. The NC New Schools
Project will support the State Board in its efforts to assess
gaps in the system and identify the tools and policy outcomes
needed to create a seamless workforce development system statewide.
JFF and HGSE are seeking private funds to support the development
of the network, beginning with a two-day institute for state
and regional teams to be held at Harvard in the fall. The North
Carolina Community College system also is a partner in this
Pathways to Prosperity framework includes the following elements
of a pathways system:
committed to providing learning opportunities at the workplace
and supporting the transition of young people into the labor
Career pathways with clear structures, timelines, costs, and
requirements linking and integrating high school and community
college curriculum and aligning both with labor market needs.
An early and sustained career information and advising system
strong enough to enable students and families to make informed
choices about educational career paths.
Local or regional intermediary organizations to provide the
infrastructure and support for the development of such pathways.