Makes the economic case for high-quality Career and Technical Education (CTE), highlights the most important characteristics of CTE programs, and discusses a number of federal and state policies that would encourage the expansion of high-quality CTE.

“High-quality Career and Technical Education (CTE)—as distinguished from older models of vocational education—has great potential to improve student educational attainment and worker earnings, as well as outcomes for firms and the U.S. economy. We began by making the economic case for high-quality CTE, based on the limited number of young Americans who currently achieve four-year college degrees and the relatively weak employment outcomes of most who do not, as well as relatively high job vacancy rates observed for some American firms and sectors. We described the current state of CTE in America, in which overall outcomes have become fairly strong but high variation remains in the quality of programs around the country. We highlighted the most important characteristics of high-quality CTE programs…[and] then discussed a number of federal and state policies that would encourage the expansion of high-quality CTE, along with continuing research and evaluation on their effectiveness” (p.1). (Abstractor: Author)

Full Publication Title: The Promise of High-Quality Career and Technical Education: Improving Outcomes for Students, Firms, and the Economy

Major Findings & Recommendations

“It seems clear that the best models of CTE offer great promise as a way of generating many more workers with the skills needed to prosper in the 21st century. But much needs to happen so that the most promising models can be brought to scale and high-quality CTE can become widely available to American students.In particular: • CTE programs should provide all students the opportunity to explore career paths and to gain the skills necessary to be successful in both higher education and the workplace” (p. 18). • “Rigorous and high-quality CTE should be available to students from all backgrounds,especially the disadvantaged; and those with weaker early educational preparation should have these opportunities as well” (p.19). • “The involvement of business is also essential for the development of programs that are high quality and also relevant to our economy” (p. 19). • “Assessment tools and accountability systems need to be developed for both college and career readiness in CTE” (p. 19). Current assessment tools include both technical skills assessments based on industry skill standards and state academic assessments. • “While much uncertainty remains about exactly what works in this area, more innovation and rigorous evaluation should be encouraged by federal and state governments” (p.19). • “Federal, state, and local policies should help ensure the alignment of CTE at the secondary and postsecondary levels with one another and with the needs of industry” (p. 19).“None of this will occur quickly; but, over time, high-quality CTE offers great promise as a means of improving student achievement and employment outcomes for all Americans. The time to move ahead with more active development of these educational opportunities is now” (p.19). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff).