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Career Pathways

Career Pathways
Preparing Students for Life

December 2003 | 360 pages | Corwin
Career Pathways is a system of organizing student learning interests and aptitudes around career fields. The model grew out of the federally funded National School-to-Work Opportunities Act (1994). Briefly, a career pathways high school starts with the career clusters, for students to align themselves with in high school. Depending on the school location and capacity, there are a variety of career clusters that are offered - engineering, health, science, art/design, writing, business, agriculture, etc. - and a curriculum is built around the individual pathway and career field - e.g. nurse - that the student chooses from within their career cluster. This is a student-oriented model of self-determination, in which students choose a curriculum area that matches their aptitudes and abilities. Core curriculum is still taught throughout each silo, so standardized testing is accommodated.

Career pathways allow students to connect their learning from year to year, to practice their strengths and skills to prepare for transition to college or work, to work as teams, etc. It does not require a high school to overhaul their system, but instead shows how high schools can integrate the pathways model to work within a school and make it a more connected learning environment.

Introduction: Student Centered High Schools
About the Authors
Chapter 1. The What and Why of Career Pathways
The Beginning: A Student Scenario

What is a Pathways High School?

Why Pathways?

Two Closing Scenarios

In Review

Chapter 2. The Collaborative Career Pathways Model
Introduction: A Student Scenario

Model Structure - The Three Pillars

Implementing the Three Pillars

Community Vertical Process

Horizontally Integrating the Pillars

Putting it all Together: The Complete Implementation Chart

Students as the Center of Learning

Pathways and Citizenship

Pathway Myths


In Review

Chapter 3. Steps to Implementing the Model
Introduction: A Community Scenario

Part I. Three Steps to Successful Change - A Process Model
Part II. A Timeline for Implementation
Part III. Funding

In Review

Part I. Building a Foundation
Chapter 4: District Vision and School Leadership: The Pathways Foundation
Intro: An American Scenario

Vision, Mission, Goals and Values

Presenting a Solid Example

A Common Experience

A Common Process

Vision Process Chart

In Review

Chapter 5. Comprehensive Guidance to Prepare and Assist Pathway Students

The Importance of Comprehensive Guidance

Career Pathways and Traditional High Schools Guidance Programs

Pathways Comprehensive Guidance and National Counseling Standards

Scheduling in a Career Pathways High School

Educational Development Plans and Portfolios

Student Testing and Data Collection

Creating an Avenue for Pathways Changes and Flexibility


In Review

Chapter 6. Curriculum in a Career Pathways High School: A Rationale for Standards, Mapping and Integration
Introduction: A Curriculum Scenario

The Importance of Curriculum in a Collaborative Career Pathways High School

What is Curriculum?

Integrating Technology

Curriculum Quiz

In Review

Part II. School Structure
Chapter 7. Focus Classes for Each Level of Career Pathways

What is a pathways class and why do we have them?

Focus Class Key Concepts and Placement

What Does Each Pathway Class Look Like?

Freshman Explorations: The Cornerstone

Sophomore Selections: The Great Balancing Act

Junior Judgments: The Stepping Stone

Senior Transitions: Moving Forward

How are Focus Classes Delivered?

Curriculum Placement of Focus Classes

Pathway Change Process

The Long-term Results of Focus Class Work

In Review

Chapter 8. Scheduling in a Collaborative Career Pathways High School
Intro - Scenario

The Need to Address Scheduling

Major Types of Scheduling and Career Pathway High Schools

An Ideal Collaborative Career Pathways Schedule

Schedules and Teaching Styles and Professional Development

Creating a Schedule that is Right for Your School


In Review

Part III. Classroom Processes
Chapter 9. Freshman Explorations: The Cornerstone of Pathways Instruction
A Student Scenario

The Important Connections

Freshman Explorations: The Curriculum

In Review

Chapter 10. Pathway Classes Grades 10-12: Sophomore Selections, Junior Judgments and Senior Transitions

The Great Scaffold

Sophomore Selections

Junior Judgments

Senior Transitions

The Scaffold Works

In Review

Chapter 11. Core and Elective Teachers as Support for the Career Pathways Instructional Process

Gaining Support of the Entire Faculty

Core and Elective Teachers as Part of the Team

Staff Inclusion

Communication in a Pathways High School

Continuous Staff Development and In-Servicing

Teaming and Collaboration

Career Technology & Academy Teachers versus Collaborative Pathway Teachers

Working with the Core Teachers

Working with the Elective Teachers

How Pathway Teachers Differ From Traditional Classroom Teachers

In Review

Part IV. Culture, Community, and Technology
Chapter 12. Public Relations, Parents and Pathways

Gathering the Stakeholders

The Public Relations Strategy

Talking To Parents

Talking to Students

Talking to the School Community

Talking to Community Members

Working with Technical Centers and Academic Sources

Myths about Pathways

The On-going Public Relations Mission

In Review

Chapter 13. The School Community: The True Classroom of Pathways

Involving the Community

Focus of Guest Visits

Speakers in the Classroom

Site Visit Locations

Designing Field Trips To Accommodate Hosts

Designing Job Shadows

Service Learning

Involving the Community in Internships and Senior Projects

Support through the Academic Community


In Review

Chapter 14. School Culture and Climate in a Pathways High School
Introduction: Miguel's First Day

What is School Culture and Climate?

Why are School Culture and Climate Important?

A Key Finding: School Connectedness

The Pathways Solution to Key Findings #1 - School Connectedness

Other Key Findings: School Prejudice and Codes of Silence

Solutions and Suggestions for Climate Control

Establish a Working Committee for Culture and Climate Issues

Access Your Climate

Develop a School-wide Plan

Addressing Some Key Points of Instruction:

Pathways as an Avenue to Good Culture and Climate

Other Complementary Programs

The First Day of School Challenge

Conclusion: Miguel's First Day Revisited

Conclusion: Becoming a Student Centered Program

In Review

Chapter 15. Pathways as a Systematic Philosophy
A Graduation Scenario

System Change

Creating a Structure with Purpose, Collaboration and Support

Creating Cultural Change through Process and Experience

Key Provisions for Successful Systems Change


Resources: Sample Forms
A. Action Plan for Model Implementation

B. Vision Process Action Plan

C. Student 4-Year Planning Sheet

D. Sample Career Pathway Educational Development Plan (E.D.P.)

E. Department Goal Planning/Action Sheet

F. Curriculum Planning Tool

G. Career Pathway 4x4 Block Scheduling Planner

H. Career Pathway Alternative Block (A/B) Scheduling Planner

I. Career Pathway Traditional Block Scheduling Planner

J. Student Goal Planner

K. Study Skill Planner

L. Student Teaming Card

M. Sample Journal Questionnaire

N. Pathway Decision Making Planner

O. Chat Card

P. Pathway Integrated Unit Planner

Q. School Climate Planning Sheet

R. Staff 1st Day of School Questionnaire


"Howard and Ill have given educators a stunning encyclopedic handbook on career pathways. Loaded with helpful lists and charts, and written in a clear, conversational tone, Career Pathways is the new indispensable resource for superintendents, principals, counselors, and teachers."

Elaine Johnson, Honorary Fellow
Huron College

"Career Pathways is the most comprehensive curriculum approach to achieving the dual goal of academic and career maturity. High school educators who seek to promote not just college admissions but college success should consider the career pathways approach."

Kenneth Gray, Professor
Penn State University

Elaine Makas Howard

Pamela J. Ill

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