Pathways Initiatives

One strategic priority for the Texas Education Agency is connecting high school to career and college. TEA works closely with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) through a collaborative tri-agency initiative to boost college and career readiness in the development of high quality college and career pathways. TEA’s Pathways team is charged with supporting districts in creating strong pathways to higher wage and high-demand careers.

What are Pathways?

Pathways ensure that students are prepared for success in college and careers in higher wage, in-demand fields. Pathways provide a framework that local education agencies (LEAs) can use to work with postsecondary institutions, businesses, and industries to better understand the knowledge and resources needed to prepare students for life after high school. Pathways are not an add-on program or new reform, but are designed to work within current systems, structures, and budgets. They are a strategy for aligning and leveraging existing programs, including the Foundation High School Program.

College and career pathways are a key strategy for schools and districts to prepare all students to succeed after high school and expand the education and employment options available to Texas students. 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.

Core Elements of Pathways

The following core elements have been identified as key to successful implementation of local, regional and statewide pathways in Texas:

  • Alignment with labor-market demand
  • Integration of rigorous core academics and career-focused learning
  • College and career information and advising
  • Links between secondary and postsecondary education
  • Credentials with value in the labor market
  • Continuum of work-based learning experiences
  • Cross-sector partnerships


Pathways Resources

The following pathways programs and initiatives move Texas forward in realizing the vision of Texas College and Career Pathways. The agency supports initiatives aligned with the core elements of Texas Pathways. Follow the links below to visit to the corresponding sections on this page.


Texas GEAR UP State Grant


The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) State Grant is a seven-year federal initiative designed to increase early college awareness and readiness in traditionally underrepresented groups. To learn more about this grant and other free college and career readiness resources available for all schools and students, visit the Texas GEAR UP webpage.

Texas AP/IB Incentive Program

In addition to Early College High School programs and dual credit courses, Texas students may earn college credit if they secure a high score on Advanced Placement (AP) and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams. Fee reductions and other incentives are available through the AP/IB Incentive program. To learn more about AP/IB expansion opportunities in Texas, visit the AP/IB Incentive Program webpage.

College and Career Advising

High quality professional school counseling is an integral component to a comprehensive education for Texas students. College and career advising is a key component of comprehensive school counseling programs that are also necessary in order to implement high- quality pathways for students. Through individualized advising, students can learn about a range of college and career options—and the education requirements linked to careers of interest—through a sequence of developmentally appropriate activities. This continuum begins with career awareness and exploration in elementary school and progresses to comprehensive college and career advising in middle and high school. TEA is committed to supporting high quality college and career advising programs and initiatives. More information will become available about future opportunities for college and career advising professional growth.

Texas OnCourse Academy is a resource that offers information around college and career advising for professional school counselors.

Pathways and Public School Accountability

Industry-Based Certifications

House Bill 22, 85th Texas Legislature, 2017, amended Texas Education Code, §39.053, to adopt a set of indicators to measure and evaluate school districts and campuses with respect to ensuring students attain the appropriate skills and learning to ensure their preparedness for success in subsequent grade levels and in entering the workforce, the military, or postsecondary education. For evaluating the performance of high school campuses and districts that include high school campuses, statute incorporates recognition of students who earn industry certifications under the student achievement domain and authorizes the commissioner to adopt rules to implement the accountability system. For more information about the list of industry-based certifications for accountability, please see the following resources:

August 2017 TAA Letter – Industry-Based Certifications for Accountability

Final List of 2017-18 Industry-Based Certifications - Updated December 2017

FAQ – Industry-Based Certifications

Tri-Agency Pathways Resources

The three primary state education and workforce agencies – TEA, THECB, and TWC – collaborate through the Governor’s Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative. The Tri-Agency Report that resulted from this collaboration outlines a call for the state to streamline resources and better prepare youth for an evolving economy. Texas Pathways will help move the state forward in better preparing students for in-demand job opportunities in higher wage fields.

The state’s higher education plan, 60x30TX, is led by the THECB and drives the tri-agency and pathways work into a solid goal of having 60% of Texans ages 25-34 obtain a postsecondary credential by the year 2030.

Texas OnCourse is a tri-agency collaboration that serves to bring agency resources around college and career pathways to one central hub location. Texas OnCourse pools career and education resources in one site. The one-stop portal helps students, parents, and educators better see how students’ experiences in middle and high school could impact their college and career paths.

P-16 Initiatives

P-16 describes an integrated system of education stretching from preschool (the P) through a four-year college degree (grade 16). It is designed to improve student achievement by getting children off to a good start, raising academic standards, conducting appropriate assessments, improving teacher quality and generally smoothing student transitions from one level of learning to the next. It also focuses on helping all children meet the proficiency levels needed to succeed at the next education level and in the workforce. The P-16 philosophy supports students during their early education and K-12 public school experience and builds a bridge from high school completion to postsecondary success.

A number of regional P-16 councils are currently at work in Texas. Membership includes local and regional K-12, higher education, and business and community leaders. Regional P-16 councils work to address the complex issues in their local education systems, while promoting a college-going culture and serving the important purpose of strengthening the state's progress toward meeting the goals of 60x30TX.

Texas Pathways Data Sources

TEA K-12 Data Resources and Research
This page provides links to state performance data and research resources, including Texas Academic Performance Reports, Academic Excellence Indicator System Reports, TEA's Division of Accountability Research, the Dropout Prevention Clearinghouse, and the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS).

National Center for Education Statistics (outside source)
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences, is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education.

Texas Higher Education Data (outside source)
Created and maintained by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the links on this page provide access to Texas higher education data and related data sources via reports, statistics, queries, and other interactive tools.

Texas Public Education Information Resource (TPEIR)
This site provides data about Texas students from pre-kindergarten through college and pre-kindergarten through high school educators.