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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 above. 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 skills. 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 1 “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 population.3 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 other.6 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 2 Stone, J. “Research to Practice.” The National Research Center for Career Technical Education, 2003. 3 Elliot, J. “A Comparison between Career and Technical Education and Other Students on a High Stakes Test.” Department of Agricultural Education, University of Arizona. 4 Stone, J. “Research to Practice.” 5 Silverberg, M. “Interim Report to Congress.” National Assessment of Vocational Education, 2002. 6 Stone, J. “Research to Practice.” 7 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. 9 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 U.S.13 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 classroom. 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: 10 Occupational Outlook Handbook” Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2003. 11 States’ Career Cluster Initiative. http://www.careerclusters.org 12 Viterito, A. and C. Teich. “The Nursing Shortage and the Role of Community Colleges in Nurse Education.” American Association of Community Colleges, 2002. 13 Ibid. 14 “About AYES.” AYES web site. http://www.ayes.org/docs/about/about2.html 15 “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 counterparts.24 16 “Report to Congress.” National Assessment of Vocational Education, 1994. 17 Plank, S. “Career and Technical Education in the Balance.” National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, 2001. 18 Kemple, J. “Career Academies.” MDRC, 2001. 19 Wonacott, M. “Dropouts and Career and Technical Education.” ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, 2002. 20 Kemple, 2001. 21 Rosenbaum, J. “Beyond Empty Promises.” Preparing America’s Future: The High School Symposium, 2002. 22 Krile, D and P. Parmer, 2002. 23 Levesque, K et al. “Vocational Education in the United States.” National Center for Education Statistics, 2000. 24 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. 26 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 students. 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 25 Levesque, K. et al, 2000. 26 Jacobson, L. et al. “Estimating the Returns to Community College Schooling for Displaced Workers.” Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 2002. 27 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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