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Students Who Take Career, Technical Education More Likely to Graduate, Be Employed

Students Who Take Career and Technical Education More Likely to Graduate, Be Employed

A new analysis of student data from Arkansas has found that students who are exposed to career and technical education are most likely to both graduate, pursue higher education and be employed.

The report, commissioned by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, was led by Shaun M. Dougherty, assistant professor of educational policy and leadership at University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education.

In partnership with Arkansas Research Center, Dougherty analyzed the center’s database of more than 100,000 students to figure out how exposure to CTE affects students later in life.

"Arkansas students with greater exposure to CTE are more likely to graduate, enroll in a two-year college, be employed, and have higher wages,” the report found.

"Furthermore, those students are just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers. In addition, students who ‘concentrate' their CTE coursework are more likely to graduate high school by 21 percentage points compared to otherwise similar students—a truly staggering number."

Arkansas was selected as the state to study because it recently required that all students take six units of “career focus” in high school in order to graduate and has made significant efforts to align CTE programs with the labor market; 89 percent of the state’s students, the report found, took at least one CTE course.

And "Arkansas is one of the few states that has linked K-12, postsecondary, and workforce data for long enough so that questions about the efficacy of secondary CTE can be addressed."

When looking at what kinds of CTE courses Arkansas students are taking, the report found that some classes are significantly more popular than others.

"Of the 725,000-plus CTE courses taken by 100,000-plus students in the three cohorts, approximately 18 percent of all course taking was accounted for by just three classes: agricultural science and technology, computerized business applications, and family and consumer sciences.”

"Other popular courses include: survey of agricultural systems, digital layout and design, digital imaging, computer applications, child development, food and nutrition, and parenting."

The report urges other states to follow in Arkansas’s footsteps in order to best help students achieve, as well as encourages federal action to increase CTE funding on a national level.

“...although most of its funding comes from state and local sources, throughout its history CTE has been shaped by federal policy. As such, the results should encourage federal policymakers to thoughtfully reauthorize the Perkins Act as soon as possible,” the report said.

Read the full report here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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