Opportunities and Options: Making Career Preparation Work for Students

Making Career Preparation Work for Students

For too long, “career” was an afterthought in college and career readiness. ESG supported the development and execution of a CCSSO Task Force, going on to author the report, Opportunities and Options: Making Career Preparation Work for Students, outlining a set of far-reaching recommendations for states to take to deepen employer engagement, build high-quality pathways, and implement meaningful accountability measures.

Recognizing this deficit, then-Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday chose to prioritize improving career readiness as his platform as President of the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and assembled a task force to tackle this issue. The task force – composed of state school chiefs, postsecondary leaders, business leaders, and career-technical education experts – analyzed leading career preparation practices in the U.S. and abroad and identified specific policies states must adopt to dramatically improve the preparation of their high school graduates. Forty-three states, D.C. and two territories signed on to these recommendations:

  1. Enlist the employer community as a lead partner in defining the pathways and skills most essential in today’s economy.
  2. Set a higher bar for the quality of career preparation programs, enabling all students to earn a meaningful postsecondary degree or credential.
  3. Make career readiness matter to schools and students by prioritizing it in accountability systems.

As a result of the report, we helped CCSSO launch a network of states committed to implementation of the Task Force recommendations. Soon thereafter, JPMorgan Chase dedicated $33 million of funding for states to apply for grants turn their visions for improving career readiness in K-12 education into a reality, based on the task force recommendations. This made way for the New Skills for Youth Initiative (NSFY) a partnership between CCSSO, ESG and Advance CTE to support state development and implementation of career readiness strategies.

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Opportunities and Options: Making Career Preparation Work for Students