Community College - STEM Career Pathways

STEM Career Pathways offer students additional opportunities to explore and prepare for successful careers in new and emerging STEM fields.

WHAT:  STEM Career Pathways are community college-centered programs that function as conduits between high schools, universities and jobs.  Community Colleges are well-positioned to lead and collaborate in a process that will prepare all students for successful employment.

The purpose of STEM Career Pathways is to:

  1. Prepare students for jobs requiring academic preparation and credentialing.
  2. Breakdown silos between K12 & higher education, between CTE & academic sectors.
  3. Deeply integrate industry-based partnerships.


WHO:  Community Colleges accomplish this by forming Professional Learning Councils (PLC).  These councils are represented by members of community colleges, local school districts, administrators and teachers, and supported by local industry.  They do this by performing action research projects and programs to remove barriers that prevent students from pursuing STEM majors and careers.  These collaborative action research efforts duplicate as teacher professional development:  shared ownership of a student’s education.  Results serve as a platform to engage community partners and industry.

HOW:  In support of this initiative SFAz has created a STEM Career Pathways Guide to help community colleges and school districts collaborate in the process.  The Guide describes Pathway components and examples to help Arizona colleges build their own STEM Pathways from the K-12 setting to the community college level and beyond.

The STEM Career Pathways Guide includes three primary components each supported by four underlying attributes.

The three primary components are:

  1. Education Outreach Career Exploration:  Generate enthusiasm and engage interest in STEM-related fields.
  2. Foundational Knowledge and Skills:  Education programs and job experiences that improve students’ foundational STEM knowledge and skills.
  3. Transferable Certifications and Degrees:  Competency-based assessments leading to industry- and nationally-recognized credentials.

The four underlying attributes are:

  1. Industry:  Schools stay current, teachers have resources, students are interested.
  2. Student Support Strategies:  Resources that encourage student success.
  3. Technology:  Integrated to better access resources.
  4. Curricular Alignment:  Nothing is wasted; all courses and credits count.


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