Aligning K-12 and Postsecondary With WorkForce Needs And Pathways

Policymakers and educators alike want students to land good jobs once they graduate from high school or college. But are students prepared for the careers that are in demand? And is the coursework offered in high school or college aligned with today’s jobs?

A new report from Education Commission of the States, Aligning K-12 and postsecondary career pathways with workforce needs, examines the policy efforts in 13 states to improve alignment between high school and postsecondary career/technical education (CTE) programs and workforce needs.

“It is critical to prepare students for high-skill, high-demand jobs,” said Jennifer Zinth, director of High School and STEM at Education Commission of the States. “To help with that process, policymakers should consider ways to improve alignment between high school and postsecondary CTE programs, and ensure that both high school and postsecondary programs truly address current or anticipated workforce needs.”

A chart allows for an easy way to compare and contrast approaches to policymaking activity from the 13 highlighted states.

Some important takeaways from this report: 

  • Some states, including Colorado and Illinois, have taken a statewide approach, creating or assigning an existing state-level entity to develop or revise career pathways.
  • Other states such as Louisiana are encouraging or requiring the creation of regional partnerships of K-12, postsecondary and business/industry partners to better align career pathways with workforce needs.
  • California is a state that has created one or more competitive grant programs to support local alignment initiative. Other states have made an appropriation to one or more statewide entities to finance such efforts.

For questions, contact Education Commission of the States Communications Specialist Brady Delander at or (303) 299.3622. 

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