The Promise of High Quality Career and Technical Education

In a recent collaboration, the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, the Georgetown Center on Poverty, The Business Roundtable, and The College Board published an issue brief, titled The Promise of High-Quality Career and Technical Education: Improving Outcomes for Students, Firms, and the Economy. The brief describes the need for improving and expanding career and technical education (CTE) across the country.  Intended to inform policy makers and business leaders of the need for high quality CTE programs, the report makes the case for CTE based on economic data and the success of completers of both secondary and postsecondary programs in further education and the workplace. Completers, who are sometimes referred to as concentrators, are students who have completed the CTE program, at least three CTE courses, or have met the minimum requirements defined by their state plans for CTE. The brief also highlights some of the places where CTE is preparing students to be college and career ready, as well as some of the national efforts underway to develop state-of-the-art programs.

While there are outstanding CTE programs across the country that respond to industry needs as well as prepare students for all levels of postsecondary education and careers, there are many programs that face challenges. These programs require support to provide students with the academic, technical, and employability skills needed for success in education and the workplace.  As Congress debates the reauthorization of several related bills, including the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (2006), the Workforce Investment Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the Higher Education Act, we hope this report presents the case for adopting legislation that sustains and creates high quality CTE programs that are equally accessible to all students, regardless of where they live.

Recommendations include:

  • Providing access to high quality and rigorous programs to all students from all social and economic backgrounds to explore careers paths and gain skills for college and career success.
  • Providing a high quality curriculum that integrates academic and technical skills.
  • Engaging business and industry in meaningful and relevant ways.
  • Implementing assessment tools and accountability systems that address both college and career readiness.
  • Providing opportunities for innovation while not diminishing support for improving programs.
  • Through federal, state and local policies, ensuring the alignment of secondary and postsecondary educational programs with the needs of business and the economy.

Wanda S. Monthey is the senior director of career readiness and CTE at The College Board.

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