Federal agencies received a flurry of public comments over a new cross-agency effort to better align K-12 education, higher education and vocational instruction with strategies to help increase access to industry-recognized credentials and good jobs.
The Career Pathways is an effort by the Departments of Education, HHS and Labor to make it easier for students to translate classroom instruction or training into a career. It is the first time the three major grant-making departments recognized the need for collaboration in coordinating the employment, training, education and support services funding streams.
The period closed on June 9 and generated 42 public comments.
Respondents were diverse: including community-based organizations; national advocacy organizations; labor unions and schools. A full analysis will take some time, but ED said a preliminary review of the responses revealed several overarching themes.
Giving states and localities greater flexibility in the administration of K-12 education, training, and human services programs through waivers or other means was one of the strongest themes. Input emphasized the importance of ensuring that career pathway systems had entry-level “rungs” and supports for English language learners. Commenters also expressed the view that more can be done to make career pathway systems accessible to students with disabilities, youth aging out of foster care and veterans,
The benefits of establishing common performance measures across education, training, and human services programs was another repeated theme. The agencies also were encouraged to continue to support the development of integrated, cross-agency state data systems. The necessity of interagency partnerships was another common theme. Federal policy should continue to set clear expectations for cross-agency collaboration, as well as continue to offer technical assistance to states to help facilitate career pathway partnerships, ED said.