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Why Pathways?

Career Preparation

Craig, R. (2019). America’s skills gap: Why it’s real, and why it matters. Available at

Ryan Craig addresses the difference between the skills required for a job and the skills potential employees have by arguing that this skill gap is real, demonstrating that it has not been closed, and explaining why it matters. As skilled labor positions remain unfilled because workers lack the necessary digital and soft skills, Craig argues that the gap persists for two reasons: (1) education friction—the failure of students to seek relevant skills due to expense and uncertainty of finding gainful employment—and (2) hiring friction—the reluctance of employers to hire untested candidates because of the increasing cost of ineffective employees and a high rate of turnover. Employers are increasingly requiring that candidates for entry-level positions have prior work experience. At the same time, higher education institutions are failing to provide graduates with the necessary skills as academics resist tailoring their curricula to industry demands. Additionally, the digital resume systems that many employers use have a bias towards candidates who have technical skills but lack the soft skills necessary to be effective employees. Finally, Craig argues that the skills gap damages the American economy, widens the generational wealth gap, and destroys the American Dream.

**Coalition For Career Development. (2019). Career readiness for all (pp. 4–15). Available at

This report advocates for stronger integration of career development in American K-12 education. Currently, our K-12 system as a whole does little (in comparison to other wealthy countries) to introduce students to different careers, career planning, or developing skills in a chosen career path. The authors argue that as a consequence, increasing numbers of high school students are failing to graduate from a 2- or 4-year institution on time, accumulating student debt without a clear plan for their future, and lacking the adequate skills to enter the workforce. The report highlights some factors that exacerbate the situation, such as a “college for all” expectation when college may not be suitable for all, and under-resourced and underfunded career counseling in high school. To draw attention to promising strategies, the authors point to schools and networks that are successfully incorporating career development in their education through programs like Linked Learning or Individualized Learning Plans. The authors believe that strong career development in a K-12 system must prioritize and provide high-quality career advising; ensure opportunities for applied and/or work-based learning; provide access to technologies that can help students plan their education and careers; and have accountability mechanisms to state departments of education through standards, frameworks, or certifications.

Learning & Development

**Loschert, K. (2019). Science of learning: What educators need to know about adolescent development. Available at

To help make the case for why student pathways represent a potentially effective model for meeting high school students’ learning needs, this summary of research on adolescent education outlines a set of twenty principles to guide adolescent learning and development within the domains of brain, identity, relationships, and agency. The authors consider a range of factors influencing the transition through adolescence and characterize this period as one of immense growth due to the physiological, psychological, and cognitive maturation taking place. The authors argue that these processes acutely shape neural connections during adolescence as the brain becomes more specialized, increased biological changes significantly modulate their behavior, and self-regulatory systems are most pliable. The authors also offer suggestions for educators to enhance their pedagogy and social interactions with students in a way that considers students’ neurological changes, their mindsets, individual motivations, and relationships with peers and adults to increase their willingness to engage in school and prospects for post-secondary success.

Morrison, N. (2019, May 16). Experience of work boosts student motivation and grades [Web log post]. Available at

This Forbes article shares results from a study conducted in the United Kingdom about exposure to knowledge of the workplace for 650 15- and 16-year-old students. Students were randomly divided into two groups: one sat in on three talks from volunteer employers coming into school, while the other group did not sit in on these talks. Results show that even this modest intervention of input from employee volunteers had a measurable impact on student motivation and grades. Students in the treatment group also reported feeling more confident in their abilities to fulfill their career aspirations. The effects were most pronounced among students who had lower prior attainment.

**This document is considered a priority reading.