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What Schools Are Doing to Strengthen Their College and Career Readiness Programs

Community partnerships help build relevant high school experiences that lead students to future success.

School districts across the United States are investing in college and career readiness programs, led by strong educators and administrators. The success stories are inspiring.

In the Fire Science Program at Sunrise Mountain High School in Glendale, Arizona, students gain the skills needed to become firefighters and can graduate with dual enrollment credits equal to an associate of science degree in emergency response and operations in fire science. In the 2016–17 school year, 100% of students graduated, earned an industry credential, and participated in work-based learning; 60% of students earned postsecondary credit.1

What Schools Are Doing to Strengthen Their College and Career Readiness Programs

Students in the Utah Aerospace Pathways program at Granite Technical Institute in Salt Lake City can earn college credits and required industry credentials to bolster them on their post-high school journeys. If they complete the required coursework and a 48-hour externship, students are guaranteed an interview with the program’s aerospace-industry partners. In the 2015–16 school year, there were perfect numbers across all categories: 100% of students earned an industry-recognized credential and postsecondary credit, participated in work-based learning, and graduated from high school.2

Growing numbers of high schools across the United States are adding and strengthening their college and career readiness programs to stay on trend with what the U.S. Department of Education calls a shift from “college for all” to “college and career ready.”3

What does it mean to be college and career ready? The College and Career Ready Working Group of the National Forum on Education Statistics offers this definition: “A student is college and career ready when he or she has attained the knowledge, skills, and disposition needed to succeed in credit-bearing (nonremedial) postsecondary coursework or a workforce training program in order to earn the credentials necessary to qualify for a meaningful career aligned to his or her goals and offering a competitive salary.”4

To help meet those goals and keep programs relevant, states and school districts are tracking job trends and needs. Sunrise Mountain High School’s fire science program began in 2004 after state and local officials in Arizona saw a future need for more firefighters.1 Similarly, Granite Technical Institute’s program was an educational and industry response to the demand for skilled aerospace workers. 2

“School redesign efforts should also be responsive to local community and economic needs,” authors Samantha Batel, Erin Roth, and Neil Campbell write in Redesigning High School: Local Perspectives from Schools and Districts, a report for the Center for American Progress. “School and district leaders must engage with business, industry, and postsecondary leaders, as well as parents, teachers, students, and other stakeholders to create an educational experience that prepares students to be good citizens and effective contributors to their community.”5

Dedicating the time and resources to effective dual enrollment programs is paying dividends for all stakeholders, according to the What Works Clearinghouse, a research division of the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education. “Dual enrollment programs were found to have positive effects on students’ degree attainment (college), college access and enrollment, credit accumulation, completing high school, and general academic achievement (high school), with a medium to large extent of evidence.”6

Redesign Your Career with an Online Teaching Degree

If you’d like to strengthen your skills as an educator and to be better equipped to guide the college and career readiness programs in your school, you may want to consider earning a degree. An MS in Education (MSEd) can help provide the career upgrade you’re looking for. Walden University offers 14 MSEd specializations to help you align your degree program with your needs and interests. The innovative self-designed option allows you to customize your master’s in education degree experience.

With a master’s in education online, you can get ready for the future while you stay grounded in the happy realities of your daily life—work, family, and favorite pastimes. Bring your skills, talents, and creativity to the diverse and dynamic field of college and career readiness, or to any part of the K–12 experience that speaks to you. Students are waiting for inspiring, dedicated teachers like you.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Education degree program with 14 specializations. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,