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Future-Focused Learning and the Workforce Pipeline

Mother and daughter

A tease graphic for a diagram later in the document titled "Middle school indicators that can help measure college readiness."
SEE BELOW for full diagram.

Learning and Career

"If Pearson puts learning at the center of everything we do," says Leah Jewell, Managing Director of Workforce Readiness at Pearson. "Then we can't ignore why people go to college."

For many, college is a means to getting a job.

So Leah and her colleagues are asking two questions in an effort to align learning with a constructive path to a student's career:

'A Lot More Than Just An Assessment'

Leah and her Pearson colleagues have developed a Career Success Program with coaching to help start answering the first question.

Early on, the program introduces students to learning pathways that match their interests and aptitudes.

"The project helps students gain self knowledge," Leah says. "Students explore careers, learn how to network, and build various skills with the help of career coaches."

"It could be done in class, over one or two years," Leah says. "It's a lot more than just an assessment."

The Career Success Program launched this year. In most cases, students are going through the program in their first year of college.

Measuring College Readiness

A recent paper was published "to clarify the readiness landscape," because "popular conceptions of college and career readiness are broadening beyond strictly academic competencies like literacy and numeracy.

"On Track: Redefining Readiness in Education and the Workplace" was authored by Matthew Gaertner, David Conley, and Paul Stoltz. (You can download a PDF copy here.)

"Educators and employers," writes lead author Matthew Gaertner, "may find it difficult to separate signal from noise and focus on the readiness paradigms that suit their needs."

Filling in Gaps and the Workforce Pipeline

The "On Track" paper is an effort to help teachers and parents speak the same language about students and their readiness for college and beyond.

"The college-readiness index was created to address gaps in research," according to the report. This broad index, used as a tool by Pearson, is intended to "provide students, parents, and teachers earlier, more actionable readiness diagnoses across a diversity of academic and non-academic domains."

Pearson has identified a list of "middle school indicators," six factors that ladder up to an overall score for college readiness.

Translating the Scores

Aggregating scores in these areas, then combining that data with high school standardized test scores, offers a fairly accurate picture of how a student may or may not be ready for college—and beyond.

Katie McClarty, who heads Pearson's Center for College & Career Success, says "conventional ways of assessing academic achievement don't do much more than that: measure academic achievement. It likely misses out on key insights about the whole student."

The "On Track" report goes on to claim: "School systems and the labor market are beginning to care a bit less about what students know at a fixed point in time, and a bit more about how they are able to continue to learn and to apply knowledge in novel and non-routine ways in real-world settings."