Writing for The 74, Sara Allan of the Bill & Melida Gates Foundation, explained a new Gates-funded project, Accelerate ED, which is providing grants in 12 states for programs that seek to link K-12 education, college, and the workplace. Excerpts of the piece appear below:
Today, we’re proud to launch Accelerate ED: Seamless Pathways to Degrees and Careers with teams in 12 states that will receive grants to build on existing efforts so more high school students will have a path to a valuable credential and early career success by “year 13.”
Studies on effective practices across early college, career, and technical education, and dual-enrollment models show strong evidence of impact on student outcomes, including increases in high school graduation, college enrollment and degree attainment. Yet, opportunities for high school students to make significant progress toward a degree while gaining valuable real-world work experience remain unevenly distributed.
The aim of the Accelerate ED initiative is to create exemplars that show that with clear commitment, strong partnerships and structured supports, all students can successfully transition from high school to college to work. For example:
- Early College Promise in Massachusetts aims to offer high school students underrepresented in higher education the opportunity to attain an associate degree or 60 credits toward a four-year degree in a state-approved Early College Promise program. Participants will defer high school graduation and take a full load of college courses while receiving high-quality wraparound supports from both the high school and college.
- 13th Year Pathway to Career Success in Dayton, Ohio, is designed to provide clear avenues for students toward in-demand jobs in health care, information technology, and manufacturing. Students who earn a certain number of college credits in these fields by 12th grade are automatically accepted into a 13th year to complete an associate degree and are guaranteed acceptance to a four-year university to complete their bachelor’s degree. Through this grant, Ohio leaders will expand this approach beyond Dayton to all 16 districts in the region.
- Scalable Success in Texas is working to update the P-TECH model (Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools) to enable students to complete an associate degree by their 13th year. Using several existing P-TECH campuses as a guide, this grant will support development of a blueprint for how similar high schools across the state can offer a 13th year model and identify key policies and funding options to make these programs available to many more students in the region and across the state.
As the economy recovers and the nation transitions out of the pandemic, the time is right for an ambitious effort to realize the vision of the last 20 years — not as a special early college program for a few deserving students, but as a set of clear pathways that connect all students to opportunities through innovative partnerships and approaches. We are excited to support the Accelerate ED innovators in creating pathways to opportunity that every student deserves.