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Scaling Local Pathways
Recognizing the time and resources needed to develop high-quality pathways, New Skills for Youth states offered incentives and support to encourage pathway expansion.
State Leadership
Incentivized State Model Pathway Implementation
States encouraged pathways adoption by connecting them to state accountability requirements and (in six states) access to state and federal funds. District staff shared that state-developed model pathways also accelerated local pathway implementation, particularly in districts new to pathways.
Funded Pilot Programs
At least five states funded pilot programs to support local pathway implementation and innovation. These pilot activities ranged from planning grants to implement state model pathways to support for expanding employer-school partnerships and addressing local equity issues.
Expanded Support for Local Pathways
All states supported local pathway expansion through at least one of the following activities: consultation with statewide advisors; communities of practice and meetings; toolkits and guides; and professional development for local staff.
Raised Awareness of Pathway Opportunities
Six states launched marketing and branding efforts to raise public awareness of the benefits of pathways among parents, students, and employers. Stakeholders also provided training for local staff to promote student participation in pathways, in part to overcome a “college for all” mentality among teachers and counselors, which remains a challenge to incorporating career readiness.
Local Innovations
Fond du Lac High School, Wisconsin
In 2017, industry leaders and educators launched the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE) Academy at Fond du Lac High School to prepare students for the construction trades. ACE students enroll in four sequential courses, participate in youth apprenticeships and other work-based learning, and earn industry-recognized credentials and postsecondary credit.
Connections to State Model Pathway
The ACE Academy at Fond du Lac High School began as a regionally developed construction pathway in response to industry input on the need to upgrade the previous pathway to align more effectively with labor market requirements. In 2019, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction modified ACE Academy materials to develop a statewide construction pathway outline addressing similar workforce needs in other regions.
Employer Marketing of Pathways
Businesses formed a promotion committee to market the academy to students, the general public, and other employers by presenting at career days, visiting middle schools, and hosting open houses. The promotion committee also tracks ACE graduates as they transition into the workforce.