TEA updates list of pathways leading to certification

McALLEN — The Texas Education Agency has updated its list of industry-based certifications that will count as part of its Pathways Initiative for the next two years.

The initiative aims to better guide students toward certifications that prepare them to transition to college or the workforce.

The agency came up with a list of approved areas, or pathways, which also gives education agencies and educators a better understanding of the state’s workforce areas that are in demand.

“Students in pathways take academically rigorous classes, explore a range of occupations, identify professional interests, build valuable skills, and feel empowered to make informed decisions about their education and future careers,” states TEA’s description of the pathways.

Under House Bill 22, which passed this year, the state is required to adopt an accountability system in which school districts and campuses are held to a certain standard when it comes to certificates leading to technical careers, postsecondary education or the military.

The list of 73 approved certifications specifies the certifying agency and the career cluster to which it belongs.

The list is slated to be reviewed on an annual basis and this month it was updated to reflect three main changes. These include the clarification of titles of several certifications, such as the Core Curriculum certification from the National Center for Construction Education and Research; the addition of the National Center for Competency Testing as a certifying agency, and the combination of two certifications into one – Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Air Conditioning certification and ASE Heating certification.

“Each Spring, TEA will work directly with the 28 regional workforce development boards to validate certifications included on the list and to solicit feedback from industry councils about additional certifications that should be included. The agency will ensure that all proposed certifications meet the criteria and will engage in a Commissioner’s Rule Change, which will include an opportunity for stakeholders to provide feedback during the public comment period.”

The six career clusters under the program are Manufacturing; Transportation, Distribution and Logistics; Information Technologies; Health Science; Architecture and Construction; Business Management and Administration; Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

These career pathways are recognized by the State Board of Education allowing for these skills to be acknowledged on students’ diplomas.

“This ensures that the achievement represents the acquisition of foundational skills and learning to ensure meaningful educational attainment,” states a notice sent by TEA in April 2017. “This also fulfills the public education goal of preparing students for success in postsecondary endeavors.”