Once an English Learner and now an aspiring high school graduate, Beatriz, a Delaware senior, has already been accepted to two top culinary schools. Last month, Beatriz shared her K-12 journey—including years of feeling disconnected from peers and the curriculum—at the Third Annual Delaware Pathways Conference. Beatriz represents millions of students across the country who once struggled or are currently struggling to carve out their post-graduation pathway.
Paul Herdman, President and CEO of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, reflected on the statewide event and detailed Delaware’s progress on career and technical education, designed to provide more choices for students like Beatriz: “In just three years Delaware Pathways has grown from 27 students to just under 6,000 in 11 career pathways and 38 high schools. While we have a ways to go, other states are now looking at Delaware as a national model, and are looking to learn from our success.”
Herdman goes on to identify five key takeaways about Delaware’s CTE growth over time.
- Delaware is a national leader, and it could be the first state in the country to get half of high school students into a career pathway.
- Inclusiveness and equity is critical. Opening career pathways to students with disabilities can connect more students with meaningful employment after high school.
- “College” doesn’t just mean a four-year degree. Two-year degrees or technical certifications are just as critical to prepare students for the real world.
- Delaware still has some work to do. Recent research shows that many Delaware students are still not prepared for college-level coursework.
- The bandwagon is filling up, but there’s still plenty of ways to get involved. As student participation grows in CTE, schools and districts will need to cultivate even more industry partnerships.
For advocates working to strengthen and expand CTE in their respective states, advocates in Delaware could be helpful thought partners.