Mississippi’s (Very) Early Career Planning

The state of Mississippi, apparently in an effort to improve the quality of its public schools, will now offer three specific pathways to high school graduation: college preparation, workforce preparation, and something else.

According to an article by Chris Kieffer in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal:

The Pathways to Success program aims to better connect education and the workforce. Beginning this spring, all eighth-grade students must chose one of 16 career clusters that most interests them.

Under the initiative, students also will choose one of three pathways for graduation. One will be the traditional option that districts currently follow that mandates 24 credits. The other two pathways will allow students to graduate with 21 credits. One option is the career pathway in which students must take four credits of career and technical education electives. Requirements for math, science, social studies, health/physical education and the arts are different than for the traditional pathway.

The other option is the district pathway that will require one fewer credit each for science, social studies and electives compared to the traditional pathway.

The “district pathway” is apparently designed to help students who are more than two years behind their peers eventually graduate from high school. That’s not exactly a Pathway to Success but at least it’s a pathway out of high school.

But that career cluster choice is sure strange. Isn’t that starting awfully early? How on earth could a student know, and why should he care, what he wants to do for a living at age 13?

The career clusters are agriculture, food, and natural resources, architecture and construction; arts, a/v technology, and communications; business management and administration, education and training, finance, government and public administration, health science; hospitality and tourism, human services, information technology; law, public safety and security, manufacturing, marketing; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; and transportation, distribution, and logistics.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer