No one-size-fits-all approach has worked well in education, not even the separate tracks of academic versus career and technical education. Students need to be prepared for both college and careers. Multiple pathways now offer a promising approach to improving high schools while also connecting with the job needs of the state’s struggling economy.
To give students access to education that is rigorous, relevant and inspires them to learn, pathways make learning real for students. Whether preparing to become medical techs or M.D.’s, carpenters or architects, all students want to know, “Why do I need to learn this?”
The answers for students in the Long Beach Unified School District may come as a result of a recently approved $125,000 Connect Ed planning grant that could lead to annual $250,000 implementation grants in future years funded by the James S. Irvine Foundation.
Multiple pathways combine academic and technical programs of study around major industry themes: biomedical and health services, construction and building design, agriculture and renewable resources; and arts, media and entertainment.
These planning grants will help Cabrillo, Jordan, Lakewood, Millikan and Poly high schools convene community planning committees, conduct pathway needs assessments, identify which pathways to develop, and set priorities for professional development and work-based learning.
As demands for a skilled and educated workforce increase, it is essential that high schools prepare students for both college and career, not just one or the other.
Multiple pathways combine rigorous academic instruction with demanding up-to-date technical curriculum and field-based learning. By offering at least six to eight pathways in a district, students will have more options to increase their preparedness for the demands of college and career.