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Press Release

Monday, December 01, 2014

States Announce Actions to Close the Skills Gap for All Students

Contact:Olympia Meolaolympia.meola@ccsso.org202-336-7071

Washington, D.C. (December 1, 2014) - The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) today released a series of actions states are taking to close the skills gap and make sure more students graduate from high school prepared for successful careers.

The recommended actions in the Opportunities and Options: Making Career Preparation Work for Students report, produced by CCSSO's Career Readiness Task Force, seek to elevate career readiness programs in K-12 public schools. The work of the Task Force was supported in part by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

States have trained enormous focus and resources on creating rigorous coursework to graduate college-ready students. The recommended actions promise the same for career readiness by ensuring equally rigorous pathways to prepare students for highly skilled jobs.

"In public education, one size does not fit all. If all students are to be successful, they need a choice of the pathway they will take to college- and/or career-readiness. It is critical that we provide viable pathways through career and technical education with programs that integrate both academics and technical skills and are aligned to employer needs so that we can prepare students for the high-paying, high skills jobs available in the 21st century," said Terry Holliday, Kentucky Education Commissioner and chairman of the task force.

Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO, said, "State chiefs are committed to making sure every student graduates from high school ready for college, careers, and life. This report highlights model policies that states can use as a guide as they work closely with the business community and higher education to build challenging, high-quality programs that will prepare every student to compete in a global economy and pursue high-skill, high-paying careers after high school."

The report encourages states to:

  • Make high school programs more responsive to the labor market by enlisting the employer community as a lead partner,
  • Significantly raise the threshold for quality career pathways in secondary schools, and
  • Make career preparation matter to schools and students, in part by expanding accountability systems to emphasize career readiness.

The full Opportunities and Options report is available online. To date, 43 states, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands have agreed to support the recommendations in the report.

A full list of supportive states is available here, along with additional statements of support from State Chiefs and partner organizations.


The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.