Editorial promotes rigorous requirements for each pathway to graduation. Postsecondary credentials are key.

The Seattle Times editorial board calls for

…robust, high-quality Career and Technical Education programs to help prepare the state’s vocationally minded students for career success 

The editorial acknowledges both the diverse pathways to career success and Washington’s new graduation requirements.

A college education should be within reach of all students with the aptitude and interest to pursue a four-year degree, but not everyone wants to follow that path. At the same time, there is a high and consistent workforce demand for skilled tradespeople, without whom Washington’s economy would shudder to a halt.

Last spring, state legislators created a number of new graduation pathways, including Career and Technical Education, to reflect students’ diverse aspirations. All students still will be required to earn 24 course credits and complete a High School and Beyond Plan, to make sure the path they choose in high school aligns with their post-graduation plans.

The key now is to ensure that each graduation pathway is equally rigorous. 

As we wrote previously, survey results show too many students fail to appreciate the importance of postsecondary training and education. A poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found

Although most young Americans ages 13-29 believe in the value and impact of higher education, nearly half say a high school diploma prepares people well for success in today’s economy, according to a new study by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The ST editorial has it right:

Once, all it took to secure a satisfying and well-paying job was a high school diploma and a good work ethic. But that story has largely changed….

According to Washington Roundtable, 70% of the state’s graduating class of 2030 will need to attain some postsecondary credential, degree or certificate to meet workforce needs. Today, fewer than 80% even graduate on time. Among some demographic groups, the number is substantially lower. 

It’s important to align secondary education and graduation requirements with the present reality. The editorial concludes,

All students deserve equal access to excellent education in preparation for adulthood. Washington cannot afford to leave any student behind.