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Career Readiness with the Pennsylvania Future Ready Index

Career Readiness with the Pennsylvania Future Ready Index

The new school year brings with it a host of emotions: anticipation, excitement, and even a little nervousness for some. In the state of Pennsylvania, there often seems to be some necessary learning for educators and administrators as well.  This is especially true this year with the inception of the Future Ready PA Index.

What is the Future Ready PA Index? And, what do you need to know as you head back to school? It’s a holistic school evaluation tool designed to serve as a one-stop location for comprehensive information about school success, and it will be shared via a dashboard to provide a visual representation of how schools are performing against multiple indicators. You’ve likely heard about it at a high level, from resources provided on the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) website, but it can feel like information overload.  We hope to help lighten the load by focusing on the basics of one aspect of the Future Ready PA Index, the Career Readiness Indicator. 

In 2006, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education established the Academic Standards for Career Education and Work (CEW), which are required for all students throughout Pennsylvania. The CEW standards address four areas of knowledge:

  • Career Awareness and Preparation
  • Career Acquisition (Getting a Job)
  • Career Retention and Advancement
  • Entrepreneurship

As a continuation of the state’s commitment to provide guidance aligned to the CEW standards, PDE has included a measure of students’ career exploration, preparation, and readiness as part of Pennsylvania’s state and federal accountability system through the Future Ready PA Index and under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

What is the Career Readiness Indicator?

The PDE states: “The Career Readiness Indicator recognizes efforts to ensure that all students have access to career exploration and preparation activities that are standards-aligned and evidence-based, including the development of career plans and portfolios that help students identify pathways and opportunities for postsecondary success.”

How is the Career Readiness Indicator measured?

The PDE states: “The Career Readiness Indicator identifies the percentage of students in a reporting cohort who demonstrate meaningful engagement in career exploration and preparation and implementation of individualized career plans through separate, specific measures based on grade level benchmarks aligned to the CEW standards. The benchmarks are as follows: 

  • The percentage of students who, by the end of grade 5, demonstrate engagement in career exploration and preparation aligned to the CEW standards, via PA CareerZone or a locally designed career exploration and preparation program/curriculum.
  • The percentage of students who, by the end of grade 8, create an individualized career plan and participate in career preparation activities aligned to the CEW standards.
  • The percentage of students who, by the end of grade 11, implement their individualized career plan through ongoing development of a career portfolio and participation in career preparation activities aligned to the CEW standards.”

Given the specific elements of the indicator, let’s explore a couple of ways you can help ensure that your students are career ready:

  • Expose your students to a Career Exploration course, where they will cover essentials like practicing a strong work ethic, time management, and communication.
  • Students who are still in the exploration phase can choose to take varying courses from Culinary Arts to Graphic Design & Illustration to hone in on their interest areas.
  • For those students nearing graduation that are especially interested in careers in Information Technology, for example, encourage them to find a career preparation course like the CompTIA A+ exam.
  • Don’t forget about important life skill courses like Essential Career Skills or Personal Finance too!

To be sure that you’re up to date on the latest terms and definitions, be sure to check out this resource on the PDE website.

If you’re interested in learning more about how your district can take advantage of the Future Ready option in selecting and evaluating alternative assessments, you can watch this 7-minute video here!

Interested in learning more about how you can support your students to ensure that they’re career ready? Check out our course catalog of over 100 career and technical education course options or our CTE program guide to get you started on the right path to supporting your students’ career ready four- and six-year plans!'s picture
Brianna Pyka
Brianna Pyka holds a BA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from The University of St. Thomas and an MBA from Concordia University, St. Paul. She is a Marketing Manager who is eternally optimistic and a passionate lifelong learner and teacher at heart. Her favorite part of each week is the time she spends at a local Minnesota elementary school practicing reading with first graders.