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Pathway2Careers is the Innovative Career-Connected Learning Model Our Students Need

NS4ed Supports the USDOE Call to Action

JJ Huff, NS4ed

Recently, the US Department of Education issued a call to action to reimagine how students transition from high school through postsecondary education and into careers.  

The USDOE set forth a vision for every high school student to earn college credits through dual enrollment, in both general education and in courses related to their career interests, receive personalized career and college counseling and navigation supports that are informed by data, employer needs, and workforce demands to make decisions about their next steps, engage in real-world, work-based learning in which they develop and hone their competencies in practice and gain experience in the workplace, and earn their first industry credentials that demonstrate their mastery of in-demand skills.  

NS4ed’s Pathway2Careers is the transformation needed for middle and high school students.  

NS4ed supports the USDOE call to action to reimagine career readiness. NS4ed, LLC was founded in 2016 with a mission to help students attain a successful future through career exploration. We have shown that through research, we can shape policy that drives practice to yield high value and actionable results for education and the workplace. Through our commitment to transforming communities, we have successfully worked with partners to provide comprehensive career and college education services. Our innovative approach focuses on delivering the best possible solutions to support long-term student success. 

Too often, many of our nation’s students suffer the long-term consequences of lagging academic outcomes in high schools and colleges that deny students the opportunity to engage in some of our nation’s most meaningful, fulfilling, and well-paying careers. We must ensure our future talent is aware of and equipped with the wealth of opportunities in their local communities and beyond.  

We must build robust, career-connected pathways from K-12 to higher education (community college and university) to employment and entrepreneurship for our students. By doing so, we build a pipeline of diverse, well-skilled talent for our employers and future economic development success.  

When they can see it, they can be it.  

NS4ed developed Pathway2Careers™ from the company-wide stance that every student can do great things when given the opportunity to learn and discover their future paths through career exploration. By connecting learning to careers, students can discover opportunities and create their path to success.  

By introducing students early to high-value careers (in-demand, high-wage, with opportunities for advancement) at the local, regional, and state level, our Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, as well as core academic subject areas. We can improve attitudes toward math through career-connected learning by answering the decades-old question of “When will I ever use this?” and ensuring we are engaging middle and high school students in meaningful and relevant career exploration.  

NS4ed strives to close the performance gap and ensure equal opportunities for everyone. Pathway2Careers has been piloted in New Mexico, and the impact on student learning has been dramatic. Access to the Pathway2Careers curriculum increased student engagement, interest, and performance in both career exploration and math. Eighty-three percent of teachers reported an increased interest in career exploration due to using the Pathway2Careers curriculum. In addition, 83% of teachers reported an increased interest in learning math, while 92% reported observing an increase in student math performance. Ninety-six percent of teachers reported the career content and the P2C math were engaging and interesting for students.  

We must ignite collaboration and align community priorities to prepare students.  

Since 2019, NS4ed’s Labor Market Navigator has been a vital tool that helps educators identify high-value careers in their region. When asked about the usefulness of the Labor Market Navigator dashboard, our client shared, “Actually, the Labor Market Navigator dashboard is the foundational piece of all of our labor market data. Every CTE director I know utilizes it to create their state-required Comprehensive Local Needs Assessments. It is considered the ‘go-to’ resource.” By using local labor market data to understand career destinations for students, educators can align education practices and prioritize learning opportunities to prepare all students for high-value career opportunities.  

We know our students are capable of great things. We are finally at the moment where school leaders and teachers have access to the tools they need to close the gap between education and employment success. We highly encourage school districts to widely adopt a career-connected learning model and motivate students by helping them understand the “why” behind the “what.” When we do this, we have an opportunity to reverse decades-long underperformance in student achievement.  

The time to act is now. We must take bold steps to ensure and expand student access and opportunity knowledge by connecting education with high-value careers. Pathway2Careers will ensure these investments yield the greatest rewards for all of our students and transform educational outcomes nationwide by taking the lead in career-connected learning.