The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear: there has never been a better time to have the right skills—or a worse time to have the wrong ones. Some students begin careers right after high school, but most good-paying jobs require some higher education. In response, many states have updated their high school graduation requirements to increase students’ preparation for postsecondary education and the workforce. At the same time, they have recognized that increases in the rigor of these requirements may require greater flexibility in how students demonstrate that they are prepared for postsecondary opportunities. This report provides a 50-state overview of high school graduation pathways, with a focus on those that offer multiple pathways to a high school diploma, and offers state policymakers and advocates recommendations to design graduation pathways that promote equity and excellence
Twenty-nine states currently offer multiple pathways to a diploma, providing students with options regarding the high school experiences they will have and, often, the postsecondary experiences for which they will be prepared. However, students in 13 states choose between a college-preparatory pathway and a career pathway—a choice that may limit the options available to them after high school.