Connections: The Newsletter of the National Career Pathways Network

Volume 31, No. 4
Strategies for CTE Program Success

Advancing Career Pathways in Mississippi

Beth Little, Mississippi Community College Board, State Director of Adult Education & High School Equivalency

SkillUP Mississippi logo In 2019, adult education in Mississippi was rebranded as SkillUP Mississippi. As adult education has evolved, so have the needs of our students. That’s why we want Mississippi’s adult education students not only to earn High School Equivalency (HSE) diplomas but also to acquire skills required in today’s job market. We want to SkillUP Mississippi.

To accomplish this would require better coordination between adult education programs and their local community colleges’ career and technical education (CTE) and workforce development departments and local industry partners. Our local programs would have to deepen their relationships—with local businesses and industries to know what skills are in demand; with workforce development boards to know what services are available and what job sectors are prevalent in their communities; and with core partners to provide the wrap-around services students need to thrive and be successful.

The idea behind Career Pathways for Adult Education in Mississippi is to offer multi-level career pathway options with multiple entry and exit points into postsecondary education and workforce training programs for students of all educational levels who do not have a high school equivalency diploma or who are basic skills deficient.

SkillUP Mississippi students Because of the success of our MIBEST program (MS Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training), which focuses on grade equivalency 9.0 and higher, it was determined that we could duplicate this concept across the state to include lower-level students. The state office worked with each adult education provider to design career pathways for all levels. Our goal is for every student to earn a high school diploma. However, those who do not earn a diploma still have multiple opportunities to acquire skills that lead to employment.

Students were assigned to the following career pathways models:

  • Foundation
  • Bridge
  • MIBEST Career Technical Education (CTE)
  • MIBEST Workforce Training

The Foundation model includes ABE levels 1 and 2 and ESL levels 1 and 2. Students receive contextualized basic instruction in digital literacy and reading, writing, numeracy, and oral communication skills aligned with the College and Career Readiness Standards. Each student develops a student success plan, takes the Smart Start course (consisting of workforce preparation activities and WorkKeys), and receives workforce training and transition and support services.

The Bridge model provides students with contextualized occupation-specific basic skills instruction needed to transition successfully to postsecondary education and employment in high-growth industries. This model includes ABE levels 3 and 4 and ESL levels 3 and 4. Upon completion, students can enter a career pathway with access to entry-level jobs, seek additional training, or advance to MIBEST. This model builds on elements contained in the Foundation model and includes workforce training.

The MIBEST CTE model includes ABE level 4, ASE levels 5 and 6, and ESL levels 5 and 6 or a minimum of a Bronze National Career Readiness Certificate. A key element of this model is team-teaching, provided by an adult education instructor and a CTE instructor. This model builds on the Foundation and Bridge models and includes college credit-bearing CTE leading to industry-recognized credentials, transferrable college credit, and/or stackable college credentials. Students can participate in on-the-job training, apprenticeships, work-based learning, and internships. Comprehensive student support services are provided by College and Career Navigators.

The MIBEST Workforce Training model follows the MIBEST CTE model. However, instead of enrolling in college credit-bearing CTE, students enroll in short-term workforce training for industry-recognized certificates and credentials or employment opportunities. With this model, it is possible to articulate earned certificates and credentials for college credit.

For more information on Career Pathways in Mississippi, visit our website at or email