Township High School District 214:

Aligning Curriculum to Career Pathways for Successful Transitions

Career Knowledge is one of the six key competencies in the College, Career and Life Readiness Framework. K-12 students spend much of their time in school working toward the goal of being prepared to enter the workforce in a career that aligns with their strengths and interests.  

Students enter high school with a wide array of experiences that have impacted their perspective on the aspirations of future careers. Some students have had the privilege of being surrounded by a network of adult role models who can expose them to a wide spectrum of careers. However for other students, there may be very few examples of adults in their lives who can model or encourage exploration of career opportunities. How can schools create a more equitable learning environment where all students are given access to opportunities to explore career pathways they are interested in?

Schools that create space for career exploration provide students with the tools to understand the characteristics and the training necessary for various careers. Additionally, they foster an environment where career knowledge is a priority leading to more meaningful conversations around how academic studies connect with students’ future careers.

Township High School District 214 (D214), has created a culture where students are encouraged to regularly think about and learn about future careers and pathways to them.  They realized that a holistic learning environment is critical for student success; that meant all hands on deck, including district leaders, counselors, teachers, and families. D214 has created a personalized learning environment for its students where individual student experiences are aligned to their personal interests through the career framework. This has allowed students to begin building their pathway to a career based on their strengths and interests.

Township High School District 214 has seen success in their approach, including:

  • 95% of the 2018 graduating class identified career cluster of interest prior to graduation
  • 32% of students participated in a workplace learning experience, up from 0% in 2014
  • 40% of the 2018 graduating class earned dual credit in a career pathway course, up 12% from 2013

Dr. Lazaro Lopez, Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning at D214, shares, “Our students are not completing the Career Cluster Finder and enrolling in pathways courses because we are telling them ‘you should do it.’ They complete these activities in the context of achieving their goals.”

When students can identify their strengths and interests in connection with their current academic studies, they can imagine what their future can look like. For students who have never had such aspirations, this is life changing. Developing career knowledge in students helps equip the next generation of the workforce with the mindset and skill set needed to be ready for the challenges and obstacles that they will face. Students may change their career goals many times along the way, but the ability to identify their interests and connect them to career pathways is a skillset that will help carry them through college, careers, and life beyond high school.

To learn more about the strategies that led to Township High School District 214’s success, visit:

To download the College, Career and Life Readiness Framework, visit:


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