Pathways of Promise

E3 Alliance facilitates Pathways of Promise (PoP), a research and implementation initiative in Central Texas designed to identify and scale Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways for high school students leading to successful transitions to and completion of a postsecondary credential. Funded by Greater Texas Foundation, the partnership includes Austin ISD, Bastrop ISD, Round Rock ISD, and San Marcos CISD. This work stands to benefit over 38,000 high school students in our PoP partner districts and our broader alliance districts as well. We also anticipate stronger college results for our higher education partners, as well as greater match and versatility in our workforce, resulting in the optimization of our local human capital for our diverse industry labor market demands.

During the research phase of the initiative, E3 Alliance conducted both qualitative and quantitative analyses of CTE coursework and career pathways. The team also established a general baseline of Central Texas high school student outcomes in order to place these analyses in context. The study focused particularly on low income students, special education students, English language learners, Hispanic students, and African-American students because these populations are traditionally underrepresented in higher education. Key CTE clusters of interest were Education, Health Sciences (HS), Information Technology (IT), and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), the four clusters considered to be economic drivers in Central Texas. Based on in-depth interviews with partner district leaders and analysis of Education Research Center data, the team found the following:

Qualitative Findings:
HB 5 Deployment Challenges

  • Middle School preparation and counseling have become critically important to successful HB 5 high school pathways. However, MS exploration does not receive state weighted funding as do HS CTE (Career and Technical Education) courses.
  • Pathway development depends on availability of qualified teachers at high school campuses rather than intentional design.
  • Internal variation of course offering and credits within and across districts complicate student counseling and pathway planning.
  • Secondary counseling does not have the capacity for the type of advising now required under HB 5.
  • Industry certifications and CTE dual credit offerings depend on qualifications of CTE teachers rather than workforce demand or clear degree pathways.


  • 31% of 2013 8th graders completed Algebra I by the end of 8th grade. Only 17% of low income 8th graders completed Algebra I compared to 43% of their non-low income peers.
  • 1 in 5 2012 high school graduates enrolled in college part time. For low income students, half of those who enrolled did so part time.
  • Full-time college students were far more likely to persist to second year than their part-time peers (89% vs. 50%). 69% of all college enrollees also worked.
  • 27% of 2012 HS graduates entered the workforce directly after graduation. 14% of HS graduates were not found in Texas colleges or workforce records.

CTE Baseline and Comparative

  • Occupational Concentrators (OC)* in CTE pathways generally saw higher outcomes in high school graduation and college enrollment.
  • The HS graduation rate for low income high school students who were Non CTE was far lower than the rate for OC. The graduation rate for low income and non-low income OC did not differ.
  • Controlling for the 9th grade TAKS performance, Black and Asian students enrolled in college at higher rates than their Hispanic and White peers.
  • Although the analysis intended to focus on Education as one of the priority clusters, there was an insufficient number of OC students in the cluster for analysis.
  • Half of all Health Science OC were low income, compared to 40% low income for IT and 31% for STEM.
  • STEM and Health Science OC had higher college enrollment rates than IT.

Based on these findings, E3 Alliance developed a logic model for regional strategic priorities for building expertise and capacity to support strong HB 5 pathways which is illustrated below. The text in purple represents the inputs and key stakeholders for capacity and expertise building. The text in blue at the bottom of the grid reflects the anticipated outcomes from the aligned activities listed in each square. The grid builds from the foundation of middle school with each row representing a specific key secondary stage. To date, the implementation phase is underway beginning with priorities chosen by the districts: professional development in middle school Mathematics and in middle school and high school regional Labor Market Information. Over 75 middle school teachers and counselors have participated in or are slated for professional development with another 80 to 100 counselors projected to participate during the next school year.

Update provided by Dr. Hannah Gourgey, Vice President for Strategic Alignment, E3 Alliance


Texas Regional STEM Degree Accelerator

Project Background
Over the past decade, our nation and state’s educational systems have been under tremendous pressure to increase the number of students who are prepared to meet our dynamic workforce demands. Analysis suggests that 1 out of every 5 jobs in 2011 required a high level of knowledge in a STEM field.[i] According to national research, approximately 8.6 million jobs will exist in STEM fields across the U.S. by 2018.[ii] In the coming years, we will need 1 million additional STEM graduates beyond current projections.[iii] Half of the available STEM jobs require less than a four-year degree (i.e. middle skills careers), and pay an average of $53,000.

Texas is projected to have approximately 9% of the nation’s future STEM opportunities, the second highest in the country.[iv] At the same time – according to research supported by the Houston Endowment and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board – the state’s rapidly changing demographic mix will pose challenges as Texas’s growing, economically disadvantaged, minority populations have less than a 10% postsecondary completion rate.[v] Therefore, the urgency to identify policy and programmatic strategies to meet this need is critical. Local and state institutions play an integral role in developing solutions to help accelerate the number of our students who will graduate with postsecondary STEM credentials.

The Texas Regional STEM Degree Accelerator initiative is focused on convening regional teams of education and workforce partners to expand the number of students with STEM credentials. The goal of this project is to ensure that 100,000 underrepresented students in Texas earn STEM degrees. To accomplish this goal, Educate Texas is providing grants for regional teams to:

Use real-time labor market data to identify regional STEM workforce needs.

Collaboratively develop strategic plans that use research-based practices that are known to support and increase student performance in STEM academic and career pathways.

Increase the number of underrepresented students in each region who graduate with postsecondary STEM credentials (including two-year, four-year, or technical degrees and/or workforce certificates) that meet identified workforce needs.

To expand the number of students with STEM credentials, institutions of higher educations and their partners must work together to analyze data, introduce interventions that improve curricula, and provide support for students. This project is designed to facilitate data-informed decision making that results in the use of existing practices based in research and evidence.

Planning Grants were approved for regional teams to begin in spring 2015 and approximately 4-6 of these teams will be selected to begin implementation in fall 2015. Each of the following teams includes partners representing all levels of education (K-12, two-year, four-year) and workforce (investment boards and employers).

  • Alamo Colleges
  • Austin Community College
  • Dallas County Community College
  • Lee College
  • South Texas College
  • Texarkana College
  • University of Texas, El Paso
  • Western Texas College

The Texas Regional STEM Degree is funded through the generosity of The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, The W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and Greater Texas Foundation and is developed in alignment with priorities for education and workforce outlined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Workforce Commission.

Update provided by Kelty Garbee, Association Program Officer, Educate Texas.

Rothwell, J. (2013). The Hidden STEM Economy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

Carnevale, A.P., Smith, N. & Strohl, J. (2010). Help Wanted. Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018. Washington, DC: Georgetwon University Center on Education and the Workforce.
President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (2012). Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates With Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. (Report to the President). Washington, DC: The White House

Schleicher, A. (2012). Education At a Glance: OECD Indicators 2012.

National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (2012). A new measure of educational success in Texas. Retrieved from

The Texas Tribune (2014). Higher Ed Outcomes. Austin, TX: The Texas Tribune