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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

High Quality Career Pathways Initiative

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
March 17, 2017


I am pleased to inform the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education about the High Quality Career Pathway (HQCP) initiative, which Massachusetts has launched under the leadership of the Workforce Skills Cabinet. The HQCP initiative is designed to prepare all students for success after high school and to be ready for both college and career. Four types of HQCPs (Career Technical Education Pathway, Early College Career Pathway, Innovation Career Pathway, and Adult Career Pathway) are being organized around a formal designation process with a mechanism for funding this work. All HQCPs include six components: 1) career advising; 2) work-based learning; 3) postsecondary linkages; 4) technical coursework; 5) credential attainment; and 6) alignment with labor market data. Below are updates on the progress of the four HQCP initiatives organized by type:

  • Career Technical Education Pathway: The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has created a new Chapter 74 application process to: 1) ensure that labor market and student demand drive determination of which programs would be selected for approval; 2) implement a standardized review process to ensure all programs are considered for approval based on the same review standards; 3) provide more directed guidance and technical assistance to districts that apply for Chapter 74 status and provide a specific timeline for review and approval; and 4) eliminate the potential for program duplication within a region unless careful consideration of labor market demand and lack of student slots warranted duplication. The Department has received 37 letters of intent for Chapter 74 programs under the new application process for this year.

  • Early College Career Pathway: At the January 24, 2017 joint meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Higher Education, both boards affirmed their shared commitment to prioritizing and advancing early college work in Massachusetts. The boards established a five-member Early College Joint Committee (ECJC) to oversee the development of a process for designating Massachusetts Early College programs. Staff from the Executive Office of Education, the Department of Higher Education, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education have been meeting to craft a comprehensive proposal that addresses the design, development, and administration of the Massachusetts Early College Initiative. The proposal will be presented to the ECJC for review. The ECJC will be meeting in April and May to prepare a policy proposal that will be presented to both boards by June 30, 2017. On Thursday, March 23, 2017, Governor Baker will officially launch the Massachusetts Early College Initiative at an event at the University of Massachusetts Club.

  • Innovation Career Pathway: Massachusetts was one of ten states recently awarded a $2 million implementation grant from the Council of Chief State School Officers over three years for New Skills for Youth, which aims to increase the number of students participating in career pathways culminating in postsecondary degrees and/or industry recognized credentials aligned with labor market need. (This followed the earlier award of a planning grant to Massachusetts for New Skills for Youth.) Staff from the Executive Office of Education, the Department of Higher Education, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development have been meeting to map out a comprehensive strategy for this initiative, refining the strategies, timelines, and milestones developed during the planning phase.

    Also under the umbrella of the Innovation Career Pathway, the Baker-Polito Administration recently awarded a $1 million STEM grant to Project Lead the Way, to help expand computer science and engineering education for students in grades 6-12 at 45 schools across the Commonwealth. The STEM High-Quality Career Pathway Capacity Grant was created to increase access for students to engage in project-based STEM courses. The grant gives priority to schools in districts that are building STEM pathways for students across all grade levels.

  • Adult Basic Education Career Pathway: Our Department's Adult and Community Learning Service (ACLS) unit sponsors Adult Career Pathway programs to help adult learners gain the skills, industry-recognized credentials, certificates, and degrees needed for employment in high-demand occupations. The Department currently awards Adult Career Pathway Grants through collaboration with regional workforce partners. ACLS is also piloting programs that combine education and training (accelerated models): Integrated Education and Training, and Integrated English literacy and civics education.

The High Quality Career Pathways initiative received additional support at an event held on Friday, March 3, 2017 at Greater Lowell Regional Vocational Technical High School. Governor Baker, along with Secretaries Peyser, Walker, and Ash, awarded $11.8 million in Skills Capital Grants to 32 vocational schools, community colleges, and traditional public high schools, which will use the funds to purchase capital equipment and expand skills training programs for careers in growing industries. As part of the Administration's Economic Development bill, Massachusetts has $45 million to award over the next three years. Created last year, the Skills Capital Grants are awarded to educational institutions that demonstrate partnerships with industry and align curriculum and credentials with businesses' demand, in order to maximize hiring opportunities in each region of the state.

I look forward to updating the Board periodically about our work on various aspects of the High Quality Career Pathways initiative. Please contact me if you have questions about it.

Last Updated: March 23, 2017
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