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MDE Announces Action to Advance Career Pathways

September 28, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) today announced its commitment to reset career education by adding rigor and value to programs preparing high school graduates for high-skilled, high-demand jobs.

Using economic development data and partnerships with community employers, Mississippi will design more challenging career readiness pathways that span secondary and postsecondary levels, culminating in credentials for students. The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is facilitating this work, which follows recommendations made in Opportunities and Options, a report of CCSSO’s Career Readiness Task Force. 

The report encourages states to make high school programs more responsive to the labor market by enlisting the employer community as a lead partner; significantly raise the threshold for quality career pathways in secondary schools; and make career preparation matter to schools and students, in part by expanding accountability systems to emphasize career readiness.

“The task force recommendations were an important start, but states now must make them a reality,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. “In this global economy, we must prepare all kids to have an option in a career pathway as well as continued academic pursuits by the time they graduate from high school.”

Dr. Kim Benton, MDE’s chief academic officer, said she is looking forward to the opportunity to partner with higher education and business and industry representatives to build a seamless system of supports for students across the state.

“We all work incredibly hard to collectively address workforce needs and student preparation. Now, through this work with CCSSO, we can learn best practices from other states that we can replicate or draw inspiration from as we refine our strategies,” she said.

For all states, CCSSO will develop an online resource center to provide strategies, case studies, self-assessment tools, communications materials and models of best practice.

Mississippi is among a group of 17 states that today announced a commitment to develop and execute a detailed plan to implement the task force recommendations. That includes making career readiness a higher priority in state accountability systems by incorporating a more robust set of career-focused indicators that measure and value successful completion of meaningful pathways, work-based learning experiences, and credentials.

The other participating states are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

CCSSO launched its Career Readiness Task Force in the spring of 2014 to address the concern that career education can reflect an outdated model that tolerates low expectations and is often misaligned with the evolving needs of the current labor market. 

Media Contact: 
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications

Jean Cook, APR
Communications Specialist