CAREER AND COLLEGE PATHWAY
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION
1. Why is there a need for an additional pathway to a high school diploma?
There are several compelling reasons for creating this additional pathway. First and perhaps most importantly, this pathway is aligned with areas that have the most opportunity for our students to gain economic independence. The Career and College pathway provides an efficient competency based pathway that focuses on the academic, employability and technical skills needed for over 65% of careers, careers that require less than a baccalaureate degree and offer the opportunity to earn a living wage and career advancement with additional education and/or experience.
The current Arizona High School graduation requirements are aligned with university entrance requirements wherein we have defined success for our students in a singular fashion -- obtaining a university degree. According to projections, less than 30% of careers require or will require this level of educational attainment. Arizona is a state that values educational choice and recognizes there are multiple paths to success. The Career and College Pathway represents an additional educational pathway choice for Arizona students.
Arizona High School graduation requirements create a limited capacity in our schools for students to do much other than meet the current requirements. Students find it difficult to fit in other courses such as Career and Technical Education. As an example, in many cases it takes students five or six math classes to meet the four required for graduation. The Career and College Pathway will provide an efficient, relevant, competency based curriculum that will allow students to achieve higher levels of competency prior to graduation from high school.
Students that see relevance in their education tend to increase their educational aspirations. Given the relevance of content in this pathway, we should expect more students to pursue and achieve success in post-secondary education. A 2018 report showed that 91% of high school graduates who earned 2-3 CTE credits enrolled in college.
Finally, the benefits from this type of pathway are well documented in Arizona, across our nation, and in other countries. We would expect higher high school graduation rates and improved academic performance for students who successfully complete this rigorous pathway. In addition, graduation from high school is highly correlated to reducing the chance of incarceration and need for social welfare assistance.
The pathway will increase the quality of the workforce in Arizona across a broad number of business sectors, and workforce quality is one of the first questions of business looking to expand or relocate. Students who complete this Pathway will have obtained the critical entry level competencies for a broad range of careers. The Pathway requires students to complete an approved workplace experience which can give them a significant advantage in their career because of experiencing the professional employability skills so valued by employers of all kinds.
2. Does this pathway represent a lowering of standards and rigor?
No, the Career and College Pathway does not represent a lowering of standards or rigor. The academic competencies are aligned with the State Board of Education’s Minimum Course of Study and Competency Requirements for Graduation from High School, and are designed to insure students can be successful in entry level post-secondary academic course work, including math and language arts without remediation. Additionally, the pathway is designed to insure that students have the knowledge necessary to be an informed decision maker (citizen) in our society on scientific and social issues
Academic competencies are only one of the three competency domains that are included in the Career and College Pathway. Employability and Technical competencies are equally important parts of the pathways curriculum. While a solid academic foundation is always needed, the top expectation of employers of all kinds are Professional/Employability Skills (soft skills) followed by the ability to perform the technical skills required of the position. This is just as true for the medical doctor as it is for the medical records administrator.
3. What is the source of the academic competencies in the Career and College Pathways Academic Core?
The academic competencies are those identified by the State Board of Education for all Arizona Students. It is recommended that schools give priority to the Science and Social Studies Standards that would ensure students possess the skills needed to be informed decision makers in our society. As informed decision makers, they will have skill sets allowing them to make their own decisions and to take responsibility for their own lives and their communities. In the case of Social Studies, schools would be encouraged to ensure that Standards are included from all the following areas, and that Civics, Economics and History be given priorities in the curriculum. Science and Social Studies competencies when prioritized in this manner will help insure that students can become fully participating citizens in our society.
4. What is the source of the Employability Competencies?
Employability competencies are some of the most valued skills by employers of all types, and for entry level careers at all levels of educational attainment. Employability skills, while helpful in gaining employment, are critical to continued employment. The Arizona Professional Employability Skills Standards are those adopted by the Arizona Skill Standards Commission on July 17, 2011.
5. What is the source of the Technical Competencies?
Arizona CTE Technical Competencies/Skill Standards are identified and validated by teams of representatives of business and industry from the occupational area. These competencies/standards are updated on a regular basis, and provide the basis for both curriculum development and related assessments.
6. Would schools be required to implement the Career and College Pathway?
No they would not. Board approval would only make available an additional option to schools that choose to implement this pathway.
7. Would students who choose to follow the Career and College Pathway be able to change pathways?
Yes. While educational pathways have been designed for different purposes, students would be able to leave the Career and College Pathway and pursue another. No Pathway should limit students in a way that does not allow them to change their career goals, which may mean pursuing another educational pathway. However, there are consequences to changing your mind in the real world. Depending on how far a student has advanced in a particular pathway, there may be additional course work required to align with the requirements of the new pathway.
8. Should students who complete the Career and College Pathway be a measure of quality in the Arizona A-F School Accountability System?
Yes they should. Any student who successfully completes a State Board of Education approved pathway, including this one, should be a measure of success for that school and included in the Arizona A-F School Accountability System.
9. What diploma would students who complete the Career and College Pathway earn?
Students who demonstrate attainment of the competencies in the Career and College Pathway would earn the Standard Arizona High School Diploma with a special Seal that recognizes the completion of this rigorous pathway. In addition, upon approval of the Pathway, an initiative will be undertaken to have business help CTE programs finance special graduation medallions and sashes for high school graduates who have completed the Pathway in the related program area.
10. Will students in both urban and rural schools be able to complete the competency requirements of the Career and College Pathway?
Yes they will. In the technical competency component it is likely that students in rural high schools will not have the number of Career and Technical Education programs available to them as students in urban high schools. However with the advent of the Career and Technical Education Districts (CTED’s) and the centralized programs they can offer and the partnerships that CTED’s and Districts have with Community Colleges, the diversity of CTE programs available to students in rural areas is at an all-time high. Of the 14 CTED’s in Arizona all but three cover rural areas of the state.
11. Will student in rural areas be able to complete the work based learning requirements of the Career and College Pathway?
The availability of opportunities for work based learning in rural areas is obviously more limited. However the Arizona Department of Education’s/CTE Work Based Learning Guide identifies a number of ways that students can complete a quality work based learning experience. Also, in almost every community there are opportunities for work based learning experiences at the school, the business that are in the community, State Offices like the Arizona Department of Transportation, and field trips to companies in larger communities.