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Ready for What? How Multiple Graduation Pathways Do—and Do Not—Signal Readiness for College and Careers


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

Key Finding: 

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.

29 states offer multiple paths to a diploma, but in 13, students choose between a college or a career pathway—potentially limiting their options after high school. Learn more from @All4Ed in Ready for What? Click To Tweet

More on the Road to Readiness

March 9, 2021

Publication | Accountability and Support, Career and Technical Education, College and Career Pathways, Every Student Succeeds Act, High Schools

Preparing Students for Careers

A collection of fact sheets on three policy areas states have used to advanced career readiness: graduation pathways, competency-based policies, and accountability systems.
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Career and Technical Education, College and Career Pathways

College and Career Pathways

All4Ed advocates for policies and practices that ensure high schools provide all students experiences that prepare them for success in college, work, and life.
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College and Career Pathways, Higher Education

High School to Higher Education

All4Ed identifies and promotes policies to close race- and income-based gaps in college preparation and create more seamless postsecondary transitions.
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Anne Hyslop

Director of Policy Development

Meet Anne