By Gary Wixom
Assistant Commissioner for Career and Technical Education
Utah System of Higher Education
We are hearing a lot of discussion these days about what is wrong with education and that education needs to be “reformed.” As educational reform takes place, and as education changes to meet the needs of the global economy, Career and Technical Education is a big part of the solution.
In a speech recently given by the Secretary of Education, he said:
It seems easier to define college-readiness than career-readiness, even if there is a great deal of overlap. At the Department, we define a college-ready student as someone who has the knowledge and skills to succeed in credit-bearing courses from day one, without remediation. That standard must be the new bar for success for all high schools, for all students–instead of the old goal of getting students a diploma.
The bar for a career-ready student is just as demanding. CTE students also must have the academic skills to be able to engage in postsecondary education and training without the need for remediation. The cause of strengthening CTE programs should never be an excuse for reducing rigor and tracking students away from pursuing a college degree .i
Did you know Career and Technical Education (CTE) is engaged in preparing both youth and adults in a wide range of careers leading to great paying jobs and a great future? These careers require various levels of education from industry certifications, postsecondary certificates and associate degrees, to four-year degrees.
According the U.S. Department of Education almost all high school students participate in CTE, and more than half take three or more credits completing a CTE program of study. These CTE programs of study equip students with core academic skills, employability skills, and job-specific and technical skills related to a specific career pathway.
Data indicates that when students take CTE classes they are at less risk of dropping out of high school. ii The average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 90 percent, compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 74.9 percent. iii More than 70 percent of secondary CTE concentrators went on to pursue postsecondary education certificates and degrees, and 4 out of 5 secondary CTE graduates who pursued postsecondary education after high school had earned a credential or were still enrolled two years later. iv
Career and Technical Education is working. Get started early following a CTE Pathway to success. To find out what career and technical education opportunities are available to you, talk with one of your school counselors or teachers today.
ii (Plank et al., Dropping Out of High School and the Place of Career and Technical Education, 2005)
iii U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Consolidated Annual Report for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 Program Year 2007–2008, unpublished data [National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium analysis]; U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Public School Graduates and Dropouts From the Common Core of Data: School Year 2007–2008, 2010.
iv U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Postsecondary and Labor Force Transitions Among Public High School Career and Technical Education Participants, 2011.