Resources & Publications

Career Pathway Bridges Help Basic Skills Students Go Farther, Faster

Aug 29, 2011

By Julie Strawn

Earning a credential beyond a high school diploma continues to be one of the most important factors in getting a good job and advancing in the workforce. For each year of postsecondary education, an adult is more likely to be employed, earn family-sustaining wages, lead a healthier life, and have children who are better prepared to succeed in school. Yet many people who seek a postsecondary credential lack the basic skills needed to succeed in college. And few students ever earn college certificates or degrees if forced to complete a long, time-consuming and costly sequence of remedial or English language classes before they can begin their postsecondary program.

CLASP's new issue brief Farther, Faster highlights six promising programs that show how a new instructional and delivery model, known as "career pathway bridges" can help lower skilled students move more quickly and successfully along college and career paths through dual enrollment in linked basic skills and occupational certificate courses. Because creating such bridges requires collaboration across college silos, this innovative model can also help transform the way colleges operate.

Career pathways offer a series of connected education and training programs and support services that enable individuals to get jobs in specific industries, and to advance over time to successfully complete higher levels of education and work in that industry. Career pathway bridges-a term coined by Wisconsin's technical colleges-provide targeted basic skills or English language help to lower skilled students so they can enter and succeed in career pathways.

Farther, Faster highlights career pathway bridges at:

  • South Texas College, McAllen, Texas
  • Lake Land College, Mattoon, Illinois
  • Portland Community College, Oregon
  • Lower Columbia College, Longview, Washington
  • Western Technical College, La Crosse, Wisconsin
  • Saint Paul Public Schools ABE/Hubbs Adult Learning Center, Ramsey County WIB, and St. Paul College, Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota

These bridges typically help students gain the knowledge and skills needed in a specific occupation or groups of occupations by contextualizing basic skills and content in English. They also change how classes are delivered, using such strategies as dual enrollment in linked basic skills and occupational courses; integrated, team-taught basic skills and occupational courses; and enrolling students in cohorts.

Learn more about career pathway bridges and these six programs in Farther, Faster: Six Promising Programs Show How Career Pathway Bridges Help Basic Skills Students Earn Credentials That Matter >>


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