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Core Indicators


									                         Indicators of Success: CTE and Research

Career technical education (CTE) straddles the education and workforce development
systems. CTE teaches technical skills to students to prepare them to succeed in the
workforce; however, it also provides a relevant context to engage students in school and
to help them attain the necessary academic skills. Because of the variety of benefits to
students, CTE leaders have chosen to hold the system accountable to each of these
benefits rather than just looking at technical skill attainment. As educators, CTE
teachers believe in sharing the responsibility for the whole student and as such they
want to be accountable for the overall educational outcomes of their students.

As a part of the Perkins Act that funds CTE, each year the state directors of CTE report
on a range of indicators to show how well CTE is doing to help students succeed. These
four indicators are:

          Attainment of academic and vocational skills
          Completion of a diploma
          Transitions to and retention in postsecondary education and the workforce
          Participation in and completion of non-traditional programs

A wide variety of research has been conducted on CTE and how it helps students in
their educational pursuits. This research brief provides a brief overview of what the
research says about how well CTE is doing in achieving its goals in each of the areas

Attainment of academic and vocational skills skills

Academic skill attainment

Of utmost concern to policymakers is ensuring that all students receive a high quality
education. There is good reason for this concern because many of our public school
students are not performing up to international standards.1 Because every aspect of the
educational delivery system has a role to play in the learning process, the career
technical education system also is accountable for helping our students attain academic

The primary purpose of career technical education is to provide students with the
necessary technical skills to excel in the workforce, but it is impossible to learn these
skills without also learning the academics. For this reason, CTE leaders are happy to

    “Achievement in America.” Education Trust, 2001.
help academic teachers make sure that students are well rounded and prepared
technically and academically.

CTE students are more likely to be categorized as “at risk” based on a variety of factors:
lower 8th grade test scores, learning disabilities, socioeconomic status, limited English
proficiency, etc.2 In spite of the fact that many CTE students begin high school behind
their peers, a growing body of research shows that CTE students are succeeding
academically on par or better than their counterparts. Consider these examples:

       Researchers have controlled for just these factors (LEP, economic disadvantage)
        and found that CTE students perform at the same level as the general
       During the decade of the 1990s, CTE concentrators increased their participation
        in more rigorous academic coursework, and when compared with general
        students, CTE kids are taking more, higher level math and science.4
       The achievement gap that persists between CTE students and general students
        narrowed substantially during the 1990s.5
       Students who complete a rigorous CTE curriculum and academic curriculum
        perform at virtually the same levels as students who complete only an academic
        curriculum therefore demonstrating that all students can obtain the benefits of
        CTE and academics in high school. There is no need to choose one or the
       Similarly, other researchers have found that when students complete at least four
        credits in an academic or career/technical major those students also meet higher
        achievement goals.7
       CTE students also perform better in postsecondary education because of their
        involvement in CTE. Research conducted at the community college level found
        that entering tech prep students performed better on placement tests and
        required less remediation. 54% of non-tech prep students required remediation
        and only 37% of tech prep students required it.8
       Students participating in a career academy also need less remedial work at
        college than their counterparts.9

Attainment of vocational skills

Although academic achievement is very important, the main role of career technical
education is to prepare students for careers. The career technical education system in
this country prepares students for a wide variety of professions: from child care workers
to computer specialists to auto mechanics. In the current economy, CTE is vital.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest growing occupations will require

  Stone, J. “Research to Practice.” The National Research Center for Career Technical Education, 2003.
  Elliot, J. “A Comparison between Career and Technical Education and Other Students on a High Stakes
Test.” Department of Agricultural Education, University of Arizona.
  Stone, J. “Research to Practice.”
  Silverberg, M. “Interim Report to Congress.” National Assessment of Vocational Education, 2002.
  Stone, J. “Research to Practice.”
  Frome, P. “HSTW: Findings from the 1996 and 1998 Assessments” Research Triangle Institute, 200.
8 Krile, D. and P. Parmer. “Tech Prep: Pathways to Success”. Office of Institutional Planning and Research,
Sinclair Community College, 2002.
  Orr, M. “A Quality Transition: Career Academy Seniors’ Improved Preparedness and Alumni’s Career and
Educational Success.” Institute on Education and the Economy, 2002.
an associate’s degree, not a bachelor’s degree. Another significant portion of the fastest
growing occupations will require a vocational certificate.10 States have responded to this
challenge by embarking upon a nationwide effort to create pathways called career
clusters for each of the career areas CTE touches.11

These statistics demonstrate the crucial need for technical skill attainment and our
system is doing much to meet these challenges. Consider the following:

        Cisco academies, that provide students with demonstrated and marketable IT
         skills, have 400,000 students in classrooms across the country.
        Today, 60% of nurses come from community colleges.12 Yet a severe nursing
         shortage still persists. Currently there are 126,000 unfilled RN positions in the
        Automotive Youth Educational Systems gives students in 330 schools the proper
         training to excel in the auto industry.14
        Schools across the country have exemplary programs that promote advanced
         technical skill attainment. Some examples are:
              o The Building Trades Academy in Ohio not only provides academic and
                  technical instruction to students, but it also enables students to receive
                  paid summer internships based on the skills they have acquired in the
              o At Aviation High School in Long Island City, New York, students graduate
                  with Federal Aviation Administration airframe and power plant
                  certification. Students also have the opportunity to intern at both
                  LaGuardia and Kennedy airports.
              o The Machine Trades Program in Ohio was one of the first high school
                  programs to satisfy the requirements for the National Institute for
                  Metalworking Skills (NIMS) certification. Students who participate in the
                  programs can obtain a credential from NIMS which demonstrates to
                  potential employers the skills they possess prior to hiring them.
        Researchers in Washington State found that their secondary CTE students are
         employed at a higher rate and make more money. No better proof exists that
         CTE students are getting the skills employers value than the fact that CTE
         students have an easier time getting and keeping a high quality job.15

Completion of a diploma

Diploma completion is an essential, and often overlooked, component of the educational
delivery system. In order for students to be able to benefit from education they need to
continue their education. This is where CTE can be essential. Many students are not
engaged by the typical school curriculum and, particularly for those at risk of dropping
out, CTE keeps the students engaged enough to remain in school and learn technical
skills and the academic curriculum. Research bears this theory out:

   Occupational Outlook Handbook” Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2003.
   States’ Career Cluster Initiative.
   Viterito, A. and C. Teich. “The Nursing Shortage and the Role of Community Colleges in Nurse
Education.” American Association of Community Colleges, 2002.
   “About AYES.” AYES web site.
   “Demand, Supply, and Results for Secondary Career and Technical Education.” Workforce Training and
Education Coordinating Board, 2003.
        The 1994 National Assessment of Vocational Education concludes that CTE
         helps to keep students in schools thereby increasing the likelihood that they will
         receive a diploma.16
        A mixture of CTE and academic courses reduces the likelihood that students will
         drop out. This is particularly true for low performing students.17
        Career academy students at a high risk of dropping out were found to have
         higher graduation rates than their high risk non-academy counterparts.18
        Studies of Tech Prep students also have found that the drop out rates are
         consistently lower than the drop out rates for the general student population.19

Transitions to and retention in postsecondary education and the workforce

Ensuring that students transition (either to challenging jobs or further education) has
become increasingly important to policy makers over the years. Similarly, retention in
either their career of choice or their postsecondary studies of choice is also of concern.
Research clearly demonstrates that CTE helps to keep students in high school (see
above section on diploma completion), but what does CTE do to help students transition
(and subsequently stay) in either their career or their postsecondary pursuits?

        Career academy students studied were more likely to go on to postsecondary
         education than a national sample of students.20
        Increasing numbers of CTE students are going on to college. CTE students
         graduating from high school in 1992 were much more likely to go to college than
         CTE students graduating in 1982.21
        Research conducted by community college staff found that Tech Prep students
         were more likely to continue to the second year of their studies that their non-
         tech prep counterparts. 60.7% of tech prep students were still enrolled in the
         second year while only 48.4% of non tech prep students were enrolled.22
        “Vocational concentrators were more likely than their other/general peers to
         obtain a degree or certificate within 2 years, despite the fact that the two groups
         enrolled at similar rates in community colleges and that vocational concentrators
         were more likely to be employed while in school.”23
        In Maryland, CTE completers performed as well or better than their non-CTE
         peers in postsecondary education and entered and completed 4 year and 2 year
         postsecondary institutions at comparable rates with their non-CTE

   “Report to Congress.” National Assessment of Vocational Education, 1994.
   Plank, S. “Career and Technical Education in the Balance.” National Research Center for Career and
Technical Education, 2001.
   Kemple, J. “Career Academies.” MDRC, 2001.
   Wonacott, M. “Dropouts and Career and Technical Education.” ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and
Vocational Education, 2002.
   Kemple, 2001.
   Rosenbaum, J. “Beyond Empty Promises.” Preparing America’s Future: The High School Symposium,
   Krile, D and P. Parmer, 2002.
   Levesque, K et al. “Vocational Education in the United States.” National Center for Education Statistics,
   Griffith, J. and J. Wade. “The Relation of High School Career and Work Oriented Education to
Postsecondary Employment and College Performance.” Journal of Vocational Education Research, 2001.
        “Postsecondary students who complete a vocational program and obtain a
         degree or certificate have been shown to have better outcomes than those who
         do not complete or obtain certification.”25
        A recent study conducted by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of
         Chicago found that a year of technically oriented coursework at community
         colleges increases the earnings of men by 14% and women by 29%. In addition,
         they found almost no earnings increase for non-technically oriented coursework.

Participation in and completion of non-traditional programs

One area of focus for federal policy makers and state leaders has been ensuring that all
students feel that they have access to the full breadth of CTE programs available in
schools. Some programs carry with them a traditional gender bias that can be difficult to
overcome. For instance, few boys enroll in cosmetology classes and few girls enroll in
auto mechanics. These biases are particularly strong at the secondary level where peer
pressure can be a determining factor in class selection for students. However, some of
the courses that are traditionally thought of as male dominated courses, such as
computer technology courses, lead to lucrative careers. Therefore, it becomes important
that male and female students feel as though they have the opportunity to participate in
the full range of course offerings.

State directors of CTE have done much to encourage nontraditional enrollments;
although, much remains to be done. Long held ideas about appropriate classes for boys
and girls are difficult to break through and entrenched opinions cannot be changed
overnight. Progress is being made. Consider the following:

        In Virginia, research shows that communications technology courses attract an
         equal number of male and female enrollees.
        New Jersey also is seeing some progress; several programs have achieved a
         gender balance, such as business management, computer sciences, and
         marketing operations.
        Across the nation, over one million secondary students were enrolled in at least
         one non-traditional CTE course in 2001-2002.27
        States have employed a variety of strategies to encourage non-traditional
         enrollments. For example:
             o North Dakota has developed a web site with resources for preparing
                 students for non-traditional careers.
             o Flowing Wells Agriscience program in Arizona has been nationally
                 recognized for its success with nontraditional placement. The traditionally
                 male dominated program enrolls equal numbers of male and female
             o Utah recently implemented a state-wide marketing campaign in an effort
                 to increase nontraditional enrollments in CTE. The campaign consisted
                 of radio and television advertisements that educated parents and
                 students about nontraditional employment opportunities. In addition, CTE

  Levesque, K. et al, 2000.
   Jacobson, L. et al. “Estimating the Returns to Community College Schooling for Displaced Workers.”
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 2002.
   NASDCTEc Analysis from 2002 Consolidated Annual Reports.
    leaders in Utah have worked to create mentoring programs for
    nontraditional enrollees.
o   South Carolina CTE leaders used Perkins funds to implement a Women
    in Welding program that successfully trained and placed women in the
    traditionally male dominated welding field. In fact, one of these students
    went on to be the first women ever hired for a welding position with
    Cremlo, Inc, a local manufacturing plant.

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