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Pathways to Prosperity Levers: Leadership and Policy

October 20, 2021

Practices & Centers

What It Is

  • Cross-sector leaders—from secondary and postsecondary education, industry, workforce development, and state and local government—develop a shared vision of high-quality pathways and take collective responsibility for their design and implementation.
  • Secondary, postsecondary, and workforce leaders align their systems, remove policy barriers, and coordinate policies, practices, funding, and other resources to enable the creation of pathways at scale.
  • Policies promote the development of college and career pathways. They provide sustainable funding to K-12 districts and community colleges to create and expand pathways and financial support for work-based learning and the infrastructure required to sustain it.
  • Pathways policies drive equity and range from laws and regulations to guidelines and frameworks. They cover many topics, including course sequences and programs of study, dual enrollment, career and technical education, articulation and transferability, credentialing, work-based learning, career navigation, regional collaboration and intermediary development, and data and accountability.

Why It Matters

  • Strong collaboration across all stakeholder institutions in a pathways system—combined with aligned policies, incentives, and funding structures—removes unnecessary barriers and creates enabling conditions for pathways implementation and scale.
  • Misaligned policies and systems, coupled with a lack of coordinated strategies and resources in schools and postsecondary institutions, disproportionately harm students from low-income backgrounds and perpetuate inequitable college and career outcomes.
  • Strong leadership is essential to the development of effective, sustainable partnerships across sectors and of public and institutional support for pathways.

What It Looks Like

  • Pathways leaders work collectively to remove policy barriers across systems and institutions and develop and implement new policies that support the implementation of high-quality pathways at scale.
  • Cross-sector leaders braid existing funding streams and collaboratively seek new funding to support pathways systems.
  • Leaders communicate a clear vision that is collectively developed by a cross-sector committee of executive-level decision makers.
  • To sustain and scale pathways, leaders commit to equitable strategies, trusting relationships across stakeholders, data-informed decision making, and the engagement of community members in discussion of key issues.

What Role Partners Play

  • Policymakers and secondary, postsecondary, and workforce system leaders collaborate to remove policy barriers and implement policy solutions.
  • Stakeholders from all sectors support the effective and efficient implementation of pathways policies, providing insight on challenges and opportunities.

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Secondary-Postsecondary Integration

Career Navigation Systems

Work-Based Learning


Leadership and Policy