Valuing Both Cs in State Accountability Systems
SREB helps states set and meet bold goals for student achievement and credential attainment

Blog post
Career map

SREB has long held that high-quality career and technical education transforms how students learn by connecting the classroom with the real world of work. Our nine Advanced Career curricula exemplify the power of CTE. Each four-course AC career pathway is built around hands-on, project-based assignments that challenge students to apply academic knowledge, technical know-how and teamwork skills to solve the same problems faced by industry professionals. Career pathway programs like AC also allow students to gain a head start on a postsecondary credential or degree while they explore their career options.

In Credentials for All (2015), SREB makes the case that career pathways can help more youth and adults thrive in a technology-driven global labor market in which at least 65 percent of all jobs and 99 percent of newly emerging jobs require a postsecondary certificate, credential or degree. What’s more, research shows that high-quality career pathway programs not only contribute to a college-going school culture but also offer special benefits to young men, minority youth and students from low-income families.

Most states have not yet met SREB’s goal that at least 80 percent of students graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to earn a postsecondary credential or degree and secure a well-paying, high-demand job.

The good news is that SREB states are leading the way toward meeting this goal by adopting accountability systems that recognize the power of career pathways to prepare more students for success after high school.

Building State Accountability Systems That Value College and Careers

SREB partners with states to help them meet their student achievement and postsecondary attainment goals. At our most recent State Leaders’ Forum, for example, secondary and postsecondary education leaders and policymakers from 19 states came together to explore actions states can take to incorporate career readiness — the sometimes overlooked “second C” in college and career readiness — into their accountability systems and reward districts and schools for offering pathways that lead to postsecondary credentials and good jobs.

Here are some of the actions Forum participants explored:

  • Many states now include clear definitions of college readiness and academic and technical career readiness in their state accountability plans. South Carolina has set a future goal that 90 percent of its graduates will meet the definition of college and career readiness described in its Profile of a South Carolina Graduate.
  • States are setting long-term student achievement and credential attainment goals and measuring growth toward those goals annually and over time. Alabama has set a goal that beginning with the class of 2025, all students will meet at least one college-readiness measure and one career-readiness measure.
  • More SREB states are moving toward the goal of valuing college readiness and career readiness equally in their accountability systems. I encourage states to send districts and schools an even clearer message about the value of high-quality CTE by awarding or each student who:
  • Demonstrates both college readiness and career readiness. Delaware, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia offer incentive bonuses for graduates who are both college ready and career ready.
    • Completes either (a) a four-course career pathway sequence in a high-demand industry or (b) a four-course sequence of AP, International Baccalaureate or AC courses in a high-demand STEM field and scores at the proficient level or above on approved end-of-course exams or industry certification exams in those courses. Kentucky includes career pathway completion in its new accountability system.
    • Earns a college- and career-readiness diploma endorsement for completing a college-ready academic core curriculum and a career pathway. North Carolina and Mississippi offer such endorsements.
    • Earn a significant number of credits toward a credential or degree in a high-wage, high-demand industry or STEM field.
  • States are using earmarked funds or bonus points to encourage districts and schools to work with postsecondary institutions and employers to develop nine-14 pathways in high-demand fields offer opportunities for students to participate in work-based learning and earn up to 30 transferrable college credits before graduating. Delaware is investing grant funds to build or expand pathways in high-demand fields like computer science, engineering, finance and health science.

To learn more about setting and meeting bold goals for student achievement, please read Valuing Both Cs in College- and Career-Readiness Accountability Systems, available at