College and Career

Pathways System

Comprehensive College and Career Pathways System

for All Students

In Elkhart County, middle schools, high schools, post-secondary schools, and businesses are working together to implement a new college and career pathways system.

We need a comprehensive system to meet the needs of schools and businesses while preparing youth with the knowledge, skills, and disposition to pursue a meaningful career. The Pathways Network maintains the long-term goal of developing a strong and aligned talent pipeline for our community.

HEA News: Student Pathways

Transformed – Collaboration is our most important work

School counselors from every public school in Elkhart County, representing all seven school corporations, pose for a group picture after a Comprehensive Counseling Collaborative of Elkhart County work session in July 2019. The CCCEC is a product of a collaborative...

Transformed – Investing together in education and training

By Brian WiebePresident/CEO of HEA This is the start of a new blog/vlog series entitled “Transformed,” where I’ll share my thoughts about Elkhart County’s journey toward becoming a "world-class place to live, learn, work and play," which is HEA's official vision...

HEA Approach to Student Pathways

HEA assists community partners in developing Networks and Initiatives to complete a comprehensive system to meet the needs of schools and business.

Comprehensive College and Career Pathways System


  • Advanced Manufacturing Sector Partnership (AMSP)
  • Business-Education Roundtables
  • Lilly Comprehensive Counseling Coalition
    (College & Career Readiness)
Comprehensive College and Career Pathways System


  • Reaching Higher
  • Career Quest
  • Manufacturing Day
  • Industry-Infused Project-Based Learning
  • Early College High School
  • Youth Apprenticeship Program

The Challenge

Without a career path beyond high school, students are more likely to be disengaged in school, at risk for academic failure, and unprepared to join the workforce.

The 2016 National Gallup Poll found that only 45% of 8th-grade students who took the survey across the United States were engaged in school. This number decreases to 34% of 12th graders who are engaged in school. Of 11th-grade students taking the survey, only 44% strongly agreed that they were excited about the future.

These numbers indicate the need for a system that connects students’ experiences in school to authentic real-world experiences outside the classroom so students can make the connection between education and their future. Students with clear visions and goals for the future and who see education as relevant to reaching these goals are much more likely to be engaged and successful in school.

Our nation is in desperate need of new models to prepare workers for the 21st century. Currently, educators and businesses attempt to tackle their challenges independently of one another.

The Solution

Elkhart County is emerging as a leader in breaking down silos between business and education and identifying solutions to the challenges faced by each sector.

Elkhart County’s Education Workforce Innovation Network developed the Career Pathways System Framework through a collaborative process:

  1. Eight public high school principals and industry leaders created a draft of the Career Pathways System Framework.
  2. Guidance counselors, curriculum and instruction staff from local middle and high schools, representatives from the Elkhart Area Career Center and staff from Ivy Tech Community College provided feedback and revisions.
  3. Business-Education Roundtables, which includes 130 local educators and business representatives, reviewed the framework before it was finalized.

This collaborative process ensures ownership by both business and educators across the county. The framework lays out a talent pipeline for our community beginning in middle schools through college and career, with re-entry points for adults wishing to improve skills and educational attainment levels to advance in their careers.

Indicators of Success

The community has identified these important indicators for success.


Student Engagement

The national trend shows that student engagement declines significantly in high school. We believe our pathways initiatives can help reverse this trend. Data on student engagement will help our county to track our progress in this area.

Post-Secondary Enrollment and Completion

Elkhart County is using data from the National Student Clearinghouse and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to track the number of students that enroll in post-secondary education and complete a degree within six years of graduating high school. This information helps provide a better understanding of students’ trajectories. As is the case across the nation, there is a significant gap in data related to completion of certificates and other high-quality post-secondary credentials. We are working to find ways to track this information locally given the importance of these degrees in our local economy.

High School Graduation

High school graduation is an important step on the journey to college and career readiness and our high school pathways programs are helping to ensure that students graduate with skills, knowledge and hands-on experience to enter into the next step in their path to success. High school graduation rates remain an important progress metric and tracking data related to dual credit completion and the completion of industry-recognized certifications along with high school graduation make this metric more relevant.
Manufacturing Day - Horizon Education Alliance

Community Priorities for
Student and Adult Pathways

  • All students will graduate from high school and attain a post-secondary credential or degree within six years of high school graduation.
  • Elkhart County has a creative, educated, and skilled workforce.
  • Elkhart County has a culture of lifelong learning.

Research Tools

Kindergarten Readiness

HEA has developed a county assessment tool to understand children’s social-emotional and physical development skills at kindergarten entry. Local kindergarten teachers helped develop this tool by identifying skills that are most important for school success. HEA combines data from this assessment with the school existing assessments to inform early-childhood efforts.

Student Engagement

Elkhart County is working towards a countywide implementation of the Gallup Poll for 5th, 8th, and 11th-grade students. The goal is to understand students’ attitudes about school and their sense of belonging. Both factors have a known effect on achievement.

Student Achievement

HEA tracks 3rd-grade reading and 5th-grade math and English language arts assessments. These tools provide important indicators of future success, including high school graduation and post-secondary success, and point to areas of need.