Get The Facts About Career Technical Education (CTE)

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In case you are not directly involved in providing or managing Career and Technical Education for students, you may not know that across the United States, February is celebrated as CTE Month! So, I wanted to say a few words about CTE.

First, looking back at my own personal life experience, in high school and college, I loved CTE although I didn’t know it at the time. I enjoyed my tech education courses in middle school where I learned skills like designing, drawing and machinery. I enjoyed courses in high school that involved being hands-on, like print shop and typing. It may not have been considered vocational education at the time, but the introduction to journalism course and participation on the school newspaper were very formative experiences. I learned to craft an article idea, to schedule and conduct interviews, write, edit and revise, and was hands-on in the actual print and layout process at the professional printer’s plant. As a senior, I learned the joys of managing and editing the work of my fellow students. You can imagine how well it went when I had to give a heavy edit to the sister of my high school girlfriend! These were very memorable life lessons!

And in college, I took wide ranging courses under the banner of radio, television and film production. The skills and experiences were awesome. The biggest missing piece; however, was a structured and thoughtful approach to career development.

Through a variety of twists and turns, the actual career I chose – or that chose me (education policy) brought me back to studying, advocating for and providing governmental leadership to the field of Career Technical Education.

“In God We Trust; All Others Bring Data.” When I prepared my book, The Power and Promise of Pathways, I knew it was important that I showed the data. I dug extensively and organized all the credible research I could find of the efficacy of career and technical education, career pathway structures, and other related topics. All this data is explained in Chapter 3.

FREE RESOURCE: If you would like to receive a PDF which gives all the data findings and citations from The Power and Promise of Pathways, just click here.


Here are the big picture summary statements of what I found about career pathways, and what are described in detail in Chapter 3.

1. Pathways Initiatives Help Improve Academic Achievement
2. Pathways Initiatives Help Increase Rigorous Academic Course Taking
3. Pathways Initiatives Help Improve High School Graduation Rates
4. Pathways Initiatives Help Develop Career Readiness Skills
5. Pathways Initiatives Help Increase Long-term Earnings

I also gathered and summarized all the relevant findings on CTE and related strategies, as indicated below.

1. Career Development

  • Helps Students Make Better College Choices
  • Leads to Better Postsecondary Achievement
  • Helps Students Make More Intentional Choices
  • Career Courses Help Improve Academic Achievement

2. Career and Technical Education

  • Strengthens Student Achievement
  • Credentials Boost Earnings
  • Course-taking Reduces High School Dropout Rates
  • Student Organizations Enhance Student Engagement
  • Develop Workplace-relevant Competencies in Students
  • (Arkansas CTE) Improves Achievement and Graduation Outcomes
  • (Massachusetts CTE) Elevates Achievement

3. Employer and Community Engagement

  • Enhances the Student Learning Experience
  • Improves Student Motivation for School Achievement
  • Helps Students Make Better Career Decisions

4. Structured Student Supports

  • High School Support Strategies Help Prevent and Reduce Student Dropouts
  • High School Supports (AVID) Strengthen College Retention and Persistence
  • College Support Improves College Retention and Completion

5. Structured Programming

  • Early College Drives Postsecondary Enrollment and Completion
  • Guided Pathways in Community Colleges Strengthen Student Retention and Completion

6. Dynamic Teaching and Learning

  • Active Learning Strategies Help Improve Student Achievement
  • Integrated Math-in-CTE Strengthens CTE Student Math Skills
  • Integrated Literacy-in-CTE Strengthens CTE Student Literacy Skills
  • Postsecondary Integration of Academic and CTE Content Promotes Student Success
  • Postsecondary Accelerated Developmental Education Student Success


By the way, if you want to get other up-to-date information about CTE, here are two of the best sources:

First, if you can get a lot of basic information about CTE in U.S. schools as the website of the Association for Career Technical Education (ACTE.)

Second, from a state leadership perspective, Advance CTE is the organization that represents all the state-level leaders and other organizations (like NC3T) that work on CTE-related issues.

Don’t forget to get your copy of the data on The Power and Promise of Pathways – career pathway programs, Career Technical Education, Career Development, and more!

Happy CTE Month!