SPR recently completed an evaluation of San Diego County Office of Education’s California Career Pathways Trust Program (CCPT). In 2015, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) received a two-year grant of $13.1 million from the California Department of Education (CDE) to implement the California Career Pathways Trust (CCPT) program. The goal of the CCPT grant was to create a regional consortium that would implement sustained, regional career pathways programs that link K–12 schools, community colleges, and employers to prepare students for the 21st century workplace. The consortium was comprised of SDCOE, 17 school districts, eight community colleges, and numerous employer partners. Together, consortium members sought to strengthen existing career pathways and develop new ones in the high-demand industries of advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and information and communications technology (ICT).
What do we know about the career pathways funded by the CCPT grant?
An important goal of the CCPT grant is to strengthen the career pathways infrastructure in San Diego County by expanding work-based learning (WBL) opportunities, enhancing employer partnerships, and strengthening the capacity of teachers to offer career pathways coursework. A career pathway is a sequence of related career technical education (CTE) courses that align core academics and work-based experiences to develop student competencies and prepare them for careers with industry-recognized credentials and real-world experiences.
The CCPT grant provided vital resources to expand and deepen CTE coursework. It provided schools with the opportunity to expand the number of classes in each sequence, revise curricula, get CTE classes A–G approved, modernize their equipment, and enhance and deepen the WBL opportunities available to students. As of the fall 2017, over 14,000 high school students and 19,500 community college students enrolled in a CCPT-funded career pathway in the consortium.
Number of School Districts with Industry Pathways
What are the key take-aways from this study?
Through interviews, site visits, and administrative data analysis, SPR was able to document benefits of the expanded and enhanced CTE programming for students and consortium members. Key takeaways from our study include:
- CTE pathways, when integrated across subjects, can increase student engagement and motivation to master core academic subjects.
- Through work-based learning (WBL) opportunities, CTE students can develop professional relationships that may lead to future jobs or internships.
- CTE students can increase their competitiveness for college acceptance through having a deeper bench of skills on their application and, in some cases, qualifying for preferred admissions.
- Through opportunities such as dual-enrollment and college credit by exam, CTE students can make progress toward a college degree while still in high school.
- Pathways students can also earn industry-recognized credentials, offering students multiple “exit points” by preparing them for a menu of occupational choices requiring different levels of education.
- When developing CTE pathways, it was valuable for schools to have staff dedicated to CTE pathway enhancement and professional development tailored to CTE teachers’ unique needs.