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Expanding career and technical pathways in Boston Public Schools

Today, 30 percent of Boston Public Schools (BPS) high school students fail to graduate within six years. Even students who do graduate struggle to find jobs and other postsecondary opportunities in one of the most expensive cities in the United States.

Data showed that students involved in career and technical education (CTE) pathways — courses designed to connect high school classes to college, industry certifications, and career — are more likely to graduate, enroll in college, get a job, and earn higher wages. To create better outcomes for its current students and graduates, BPS set a goal of developing a CTE program rooted in work-based learning to accompany its academic curriculum.

By bringing together individual schools with an interest in CTE and occupational industries with the highest demand in the greater Boston area, the EdVestors team developed and expanded high-quality CTE pathways across BPS. These include computer and information technology, health care, aviation, and other technical fields. 

How it helps

The goal of EdVestors is to increase the number of public schools delivering improved education outcomes. Their team believes that increasing CTE pathways can address some of the challenges facing Boston’s traditional public high schools by providing more options for its students to find appropriate and motivating postsecondary pathways.

Built on best practices from other cities, the CTA pathway program aims to close opportunity and achievement gaps by providing access to rigorous coursework, non-academic student supports, exposure to work-based learning and career readiness, and opportunities for college and career exploration. Through this initiative, EdVestors helps high schools plan and provide quality CTE opportunities for more Boston students, preparing them to qualify for the fields that hold the employment opportunities of the future.

To prototype and test its CTE initiative, EdVestors partnered with East Boston High School (EBHS) from 2016-2018 to develop six new pathways designed for the Boston area. The result? A two-year CTE sequence completion rate of 94 percent, and a four-year graduation rate of 76 percent (vs. 68 percent the previous years). Due to the success of the pilot, EBHS is now a full CTE school with all juniors enrolled in a two-year, two-course sequence. The process, framework, curriculum development, and standards developed in this pilot will help create CTE pathways in other city schools — with the end goal of preparing BPS students for an economy that works better for them.