Pilot Program Aims to Put Missouri Students on Path to Career Success


Collaboration focusing on preparing students for the work force

Preparing students in Missouri for the jobs of the future is the focus of a new partnership that is bringing together educators, policymakers and employers.

State leaders participating in the Pathways to Prosperity Network met February 7 in St. Louis to continue their work on developing a system of "career pathways" designed to help high-school students succeed in college, other types of training and the workplace.

The program is a collaboration between the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Harvard's Graduate School of Education, and business and community leaders.

"Pathways to Prosperity will provide an innovative way to prepare students for postsecondary education or training and a career," said Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro. "The program focuses on defining and developing students' abilities through rigorous academic and technical education and guiding the students toward successfully entering the work force."

The initiative began last year when Missouri was one of six states selected for the program. Participating states create education and career opportunities for students based on regional economic and work force needs.

Missouri's pilot project is currently under way in the St. Louis area where the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is working with the Department of Economic Development to establish three Innovation High Schools in the St. Louis, Pattonville and Ferguson-Florissant school districts. The Innovation High Schools will offer specialized training, internships, apprenticeships, and dual credit classes that will give students the opportunity to earn college credit.

Nicastro said the program will eventually be expanded to other parts of the state.

The Pathways to Prosperity initiative links high school and higher education curriculum with the needs of the labor market and provides information to students and their families so they can make informed decisions about education, training and career options. The project also involves employers providing students with learning opportunities and hands-on experience in a workplace setting and working with those students as they transition into the work force.

Preparing students for college, other postsecondary training and a career is one of the primary goals of the Department's Top 10 by 20 initiative, which aims for education in Missouri to be ranked among the top 10 states by 2020.

Missouri's Pathways to Prosperity steering committee is being chaired by Dr. Kelvin Adams, superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools and June Fowler, vice president of corporate and public communications at BJC HealthCare.

In addition to Missouri, other states participating in the Pathways to Prosperity initiative include: Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Tennessee. California and Georgia are in the process of joining the initiative.