College & Career Pathways

Equipping All Students for a Successful Future 

In today’s evolving job market, careers demand changing and expanding sets of knowledge and skills. Unfortunately, too many high school graduates find themselves without the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in college or the workforce. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Education to workforce pathways can empower students to learn authenticated in-demand skill sets that prepare them for growing mid- and high-wage careers. These pathways can prepare students for the careers of the future while ensuring quality, value, equity and access for all students.

Fundamental Policy Principles

POLICY SOLUTION: College Acceleration

College acceleration opportunities offer high school students the chance to prepare for college-level expectations while earning valuable college credit.

Best of all, the earned credit from opportunities like Advanced Placement (AP), Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE), College Level Examination Program (CLEP), dual credit, early college high school and International Baccalaureate (IB) can reduce students’ time in achieving a postsecondary credential and make college more affordable for families.

However, these opportunities are still out of reach for many students or do not clearly fit into their career interests and pathways. But states can make policy changes to make every credit and learning opportunity count.

POLICY SOLUTION: Career & Technical Education

Quality career and technical education (CTE) programs can offer students a leg up in a promising career or a head start in postsecondary and career. But, unfortunately, not all CTE programs are high quality.

States dedicated to strengthening their CTE programs will set up their local economies, employers and students for long-term success.



As of 2019, there are 36 million Americans in the “Some College, No Degree” population—those with some postsecondary education and training but who haven’t completed their program and are no longer enrolled. State leaders can re-engage these learners by creating flexible new opportunities that help individuals complete college degrees and credentials.


Industry certifications are industry-recognized credentials with global portability and value that employers use to certify than an applicant is qualified for a job. Welding, information technology (CompTIA A+, CCNA, etc.), construction (carpentry, masonry, & electrical), are just a few examples of the vast number of industry certifications available. States can empower students to earn valuable, stackable industry certifications and enter the workforce ready to choose from good-paying, in-demand jobs.

Real Policy Results


Average college credits earned by Early College High School students by graduation.  

SOURCE: American Institutes for Research

Of high school CTE programs offer work-based learning. 

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education

Increase in the number of high schools teaching computer science from 2018 to 2019.

SOURCE:, 2019

Increase in the number of female AP computer science students between 2018 and 2019.

SOURCE: & College Board

What They Are Saying

“By providing college and career pathways to Arizona’s students, our state will be poised to meet tomorrow’s demand for a highly-skilled workforce that creates a strong homegrown talent pipeline for Arizona businesses. With partners like ExcelinEd, our resolve is to bolster and strengthen these pathways to ensure every student has the opportunity to achieve the American dream.”

Sen. Sylvia Allen

Arizona State Senate

“Making sure each and every child has access to advanced courses and industry certifications is an important way we prepare students to excel in college and in their future careers. Florida is a national leader in expanding Advanced Placement and dual enrollment course access, which saves our Florida families millions of dollars in college tuition and narrows achievement gaps between groups of students.”

Rep. Byron Donalds

Florida House of Representatives

“Every student deserves a successful life after graduating high school, whether that is pursuing post-secondary education or a career. A critical part of that success is ensuring that K–12 schools have a strong accountability system rooted in student proficiency and growth measures, allowing for educators and parents to better understand how to support the individual needs of each student. An A–F letter grading system does that.”

Beth DeShone

Advocacy Director, The Great Lakes Education Project

“So many areas of the state are changing their approach to education, and the Marshall Plan for Talent brings everyone together on the best approaches to match educational skills with available well-paying jobs.”

Gov. Rich Snyder

Governor of Michigan (2011–2019)

“In the Hoosier State, we are focused on creating a collaborative environment between K–12, higher education, and private industry. A student’s K–12 experience should enable them to go down any pathway that they want whether that’s career oriented or college oriented, and it should allow them to alter that pathway if and when their goals in life change. ExcelinEd has been critical to our work to create meaningful pathways for students.”

Sen. Jeff Raatz

Indiana State Senate

“We’re not going to create a more just America unless every child has the
potential of being college and/or career ready by the time they finish high school.”

Governor Jeb Bush

Founder and Chairman, ExcelinEd

Meet the Experts