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On Track to Career Success

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On Track to Career Success

Insights from a Pandemic: Reflections from the On Track to Career Success Project

After extensive planning and work building multiple partnerships, the On Track to Career Success (OTCS) project was launched in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and New Orleans, Louisiana in early 2020. The OTCS project works with partner schools and communities to create a framework to support all students, including the most marginalized, on a path to high school graduation, post-secondary schooling and/or training, and a career with a family-supporting wage.

At about the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and disrupted so much of our lives. Carefully designed plans were pushed aside amid new health restrictions. The next two years were defined by uncertainty and stress, as schools moved to online instruction and then hybrid schooling, forcing educators, nonprofit partners, and community members across the country to reimagine education. Such challenges were perhaps steeper at the OTCS schools, which serve Black, indigenous, and other people of color in historically underserved communities that were among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

Despite these challenges, five key insights were gleaned from the project’s first two years and are summarized in the report, Pandemic Insights: Reflections from the On Track to Career Success Project, and will be of value to educators, funders interested in systemic educational reform, workforce providers, researchers, and others:

  1. Schools Play a Critical Role Connecting Students and Staff — An Essential Building Block for Emotional Well-Being and Success
  2. Relationship Building and a Focus on People’s Well-being are Essential
  3. Flexibility and Adaptation are Necessary Ingredients
  4. Building and Sustaining Partnerships Requires Ongoing Work and a Shared Context
  5. The Pandemic Promoted Rich Conversations as Schools Looked for New Solutions

Follow this link to read the full report.

On Track to Career Success Ensuring Postsecondary Education and Work for All Students

To succeed in the 21st century, all students need to earn a high school diploma and have a supported postsecondary pathway that prepares them in their career. Unfortunately, access to these opportunities is not equitably spread throughout our nation. In our neighborhoods and communities with the highest needs, they are least frequently present. Implementation of the framework is designed to improve high school graduation rates, especially among the highest needs students, and greatly increase the number of graduates who successfully continue their schooling or training and find employment, even in the most impacted locales.

Partnerships between high schools, districts, youth, community organizations, workforce development organizations, employers, and postsecondary education institutions (including technical, 2-year, and 4-year) collaboratively build systems both within and outside of local high schools to ensure all students have the education, work experiences, and the support to be successful in their adult lives.

United by a commitment to racial equity, shared values, and a vision to prepare students to be future ready, youth representatives serve as key partners to co-design new pathways and experiences, and foster a meaningful increase in student self-efficacy and leadership.

Project Vision

Individuals two years beyond high school have graduated high school possessing the schooling, training, and work experiences to attain and succeed in careers with family supporting wages.

Project Goal

Prototype and implement an equitable career success framework spanning grades 9 – 14, connected to high school communities that enable all students, including those facing the toughest challenges, to build educational, social-emotional, and workplace skills that lead to success in careers with family supporting wages.

Project Partners

Partners help to design and build a system of opportunities and supports situated both within and outside of the high school during grades 9 – 14. Through dynamic collaboration focused on expanding student support and opportunities, all students will have the pre- and post-graduation experiences that will guide them to a successful career.