The academic-dominated approach is not working, especially for economically disadvantaged students. Of this group, about 20 percent of teenagers don’t graduate from high school at all. Of those who do graduate, about half matriculate to some form of college. But many are not ready: two-thirds of low-income students at community colleges start in remedial classes.
Here’s where things really fall apart. Only a third of community college students who start in remedial courses complete a credential within six years. Forty percent don’t ever get beyond the remedial stage.
The common outcome of our current strategy—“bachelor’s degree or bust”—is that a young person drops out of college at age 20 with no post-secondary credential, no skills, and no work experience, but a fair amount of debt. That’s a terrible way to begin adult life, and it’s even worse if the young adult aims to escape poverty.
Technical education for social mobility
A better approach for many young people would be to develop coherent pathways, beginning in high school, into authentic technical education options at the post-secondary level. But, right now, 81 percent of high school students are taking an academic route; only 19 percent are “concentrating” in career and technical education (i.e., earning at least three credits in a single CTE program area).
As Tamar Jacoby demonstrates, high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs, culminating in industry-recognized post-secondary credentials, have great promise in engaging students, helping them succeed academically, boosting college completion rates, and brightening career prospects. By age 20, graduates of such programs have academic credentials, technical credentials, and work experience—and, usually, well-paying jobs:
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Not just college: Technical education as a pathway to the middle class | Brookings Institution