Begin Main Content Area

Career Readiness Standards

An important component of Pennsylvania’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Consolidated State Plan is the creation of the Future Ready PA Index, a comprehensive, public-facing school progress report that includes a wide range of meaningful, evidence-based indicators. The Future Ready PA Index moves beyond a single, summative score to increase transparency around school and student group performance.

Each indicator within the Future Ready PA Index was selected based on extensive feedback from stakeholders across the commonwealth, along with careful evaluation of the practices and systems that tie to continuous school improvement.

Indicators fall into three main categories:

  • Statewide Assessment Measures
  • On-Track Measures
  • College and Career Ready Measures

This page provides additional details and support on Career Readiness Standards, one of two College and Career Ready Measures, along with Graduation Rate, that will also serve as federal accountability indicators.

Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, PDE will report LEA’s calculations of career readiness experiences at the building level, as well as for any student group of 20 or more students, to recognize efforts to ensure that all students have access to career exploration and preparation activities that are standards-aligned and evidence-based.1 For the 2017-18 school year, school entities will be expected to verify and document that students identified as satisfying career exploration and preparation criteria have submitted at least two pieces of supporting evidence.

For the 2018-19 school year and beyond, school entities must demonstrate that students have met the full continuum of career readiness expectations as defined for each grade span. Specifically, evidence shall be collected in a manner that validates that all four strands of the Career Education and Work standards have been meaningfully addressed. Grade span requirements are as follows:

  • By the end of grade 5, the student has produced six or more pieces of evidence accumulated within the 3-5 grade span. In future years, best practice is to produce a minimum of two pieces of evidence in grades 3, 4, and 5.
  • By the end of grade 8, the student has produced six additional pieces of evidence beyond the K-5 band evidence. One piece of evidence for the 6-8 grade band must be the student’s individualized career plan.
  • By the end of grade 11, the student has produced eight additional pieces of evidence beyond the K-5 and 6-8 grade bands of evidence. At least two of these pieces of evidence must demonstrate implementation of the student’s individualized career plan.

In future years, recommended best practice is to produce a minimum of two pieces of evidence in each grade within the bands. For instance, students in the grade 3-5 band should have two pieces of evidence in each of grades 3, 4, and 5. Evidence collected in one grade band does not offset requirements for a subsequent grade band.

Ultimately, the goal is for each student to develop a career portfolio by the end of grade 11 that reflects evidence from all three grade bands. The first class of students able to fully meet the completion goal is the Class of 2026 (students currently in grade 4).

Frequently asked questions about the career readiness calculation and associated answers appear below.

What is the formula for calculating career readiness?

Number of students submitting required # of evidence
ESSA Student Snapshot enrollment of students in each reported grade - 5, 8, 11

How will this new indicator affect my LEAs Pennsylvania Information Management System (PIMS) submissions?

The Student Fact template from PIMS, together with the ESSA Student Snapshot, will inform calculations provided by LEAs. School entities are responsible for reporting individual student data into PIMS, Field 10, to verify the career readiness benchmark was met by each individual student by the end of grades 5, 8, and 11.

Schools are reminded that during statewide assessment monitoring visits, monitors may request documentation to verify the data reported. Examples of appropriate documentation may include student portfolios and/or graded student artifacts resulting from classroom instruction and records of student data.

How will school performance on career readiness be described and displayed on the Future Ready PA Index?

Career readiness will be measured based on norm-referenced performance standards. Performance standards will be set by evaluating data for all public schools for the 2017-18 school year. Once the 2017-18 data is received, a methodology will be applied that yields three cut scores. The results will be displayed as follows:

  • BLUE for a school that exceeds the Performance Standard
  • GREEN for a school that meets the Performance Standard
  • RED for a school that does not meet the Performance Standard

In addition to the Blue, Green, and Red performance designations, year over year performance will be depicted by:

  • An upward ARROW for an increase in performance from the previous year
  • A solid CIRCLE for maintaining the same performance from the previous year
  • A downward ARROW for a decrease in performance from the previous year

Where can we find information about evidence or artifacts examples for collection and reporting purposes?

PDE has provided a Career Readiness Indicator Guidance Document to assist schools in evidence collection, monitoring, and reporting of career awareness and preparation activities for each grade span. PDE will continue to develop additional resources for access in PDE’s Standards Aligned System (SAS) Portal.

What additional supports are available for implementation of the indicator?

Governor Wolf recently announced $1 million is available for Teacher in the Workplace grants. Teacher in the Workplace grants connect classrooms and businesses to help schools prepare students for the changing 21st century economy. Teacher in the Workplace grant information and the application is now available on the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s website. The application deadline is April 25, 2018.

For answers to questions about the Future Ready PA Index or to connect with PDE's Career Readiness Advisor, please email:

1 Career exploration and preparation activities must be aligned to Pennsylvania State Board of Education- promulgated regulations (22 Pa. Code Chapter 4) establishing the state Academic Standards for Career Education and Work (CEW standards). The CEW standards address four areas of knowledge: 1. Career Awareness and Preparation (Section 13.1); 2. Career Acquisition (Getting a Job) (Section 13.2); 3. Career Retention and Advancement (Section 13.3); and 4. Entrepreneurship (Section 13.4).