In this modern age, young people must possess specialized skills, technological savvy and real-life field experience in order to be competitive in college or university admissions and the global job market. Academic and career pathways offer students the opportunity to develop these qualifications and hone their intellect, from the elementary level through graduation.
The Colorado Paradox
Colorado has one of the most highly educated populations of any state in the nation. About 35 percent of adults age 25 or older in Colorado hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. In the United States as a whole, only 30 percent of adults hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. This means that Colorado adults rank far above the rest of the nation when it comes to education.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Colorado children. Colorado’s public school graduation rate – the percentage of Colorado students who start public high school and graduate on time – ranks in the bottom half of the states (27th among 50). It is a paradox – how could Colorado rank at the top of the nation in terms of the education levels of its population, but rank so low in terms of graduation rates?
The explanation is that Colorado imports much of its highly skilled talent, leaving few jobs for homegrown Colorado residents and little room for them to compete, especially the ones who do not hold a college degree and who have no specialized skills.
Skills of the Future
Aurora Public Schools recognized these shortcomings in Colorado education. APS partnered with the Community Workforce Planning Team and hired expert consultants to determine which skill sets would be in demand over the next few decades. Based on those findings, APS developed a ground-breaking educational strategy. This strategy utilizes academic and career pathways to teach students skills that prepare them for further education or future careers, whether they choose to live in Colorado or on the other side of the world.
Through academic and career pathways, APS students will graduate with unique abilities and credentials, ready to enter college or the workforce. They will have the opportunity to participate in internships, develop their computer skills and explore nearby businesses, organizations and higher education options to learn about careers and colleges that interest them. This gives APS students a chance to start networking with the community before they earn their diplomas. Pathways provide an environment that replicates the real world, preparing students for academic success in college, real-life jobs and the realities of a global economy.
Pathways in the News