Career and Technical Education: Preparing Students for College and Career Success
Career and technical education (CTE) is a critical strategy for preparing youth and adults for future education and workforce opportunities. CTE allows students to combine learning with real-world experiences—and develop crucial academic, technical, and employability skills. CTE can also help address the increasing skills gap—a disparity between the skills job-seekers offer and the skills that employers need. States and regions, school districts, and individual institutions are creating innovative CTE programs that pave the way for students and adults to successfully continue their education and obtain high-wage, high-demand careers. Nationwide, AIR is supporting organizations large and small to strengthen CTE through rigorous research, evaluation, and technical assistance.
Highlights of AIR's Work
AIR is leading a federally funded network designed to increase the evidence base on CTE programs. The goal of the Career and Technical Education Research Network is to share information, build new knowledge, and assist leaders and practitioners in their efforts to strengthen CTE policies and programs and improve student outcomes.
The College and Career Readiness and Success (CCRS) Center at AIR is developing tools and peer-to-peer networks on topics related to CTE, such as career pathways, work-based learning, and more:
- Designing a Career Pathways System: A Framework for State Education Agencies focuses on helping educational leaders develop a rigorous and cohesive career pathway system with four chapters intended to help educators design, implement, and evaluate a career pathways system.
- Integrating Employability Skills: A Framework for All Educators is a professional learning module that helps educators build knowledge and capacity to integrate and prioritize employability skills at the state and local levels.
- The State Work-Based Learning Initiative provides customized resources for state CTE directors and key state and district teams as they plan and develop policy, guidance, and implementation strategies that strengthen and expand work-based learning opportunities for students.
- To help states understand several federal policies that can be leveraged to promote student engagement in CTE, the CCRS Center created Developing a College- and Career-Ready Workforce: An Analysis of ESSA, Perkins, and WIOA.
A Special Issues Brief, 21st Century Educators: Developing and Supporting Great Career and Technical Education Teachers, developed by the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders offers insight into three human capital management policies that are critical for CTE teachers: certification, performance evaluation, and professional development.
In addition, AIR has published CTE-related research-to-practice briefs, including:
- Looking Under the Hood of Competency-Based Education: The Relationship Between Competency-Based Education Practices and Students’ Learning Skills, Behaviors, and Dispositions takes a closer look at how schools implement competency-based education, and how it is related to what students need to learn effectively.
- What Career and Technical Education Teachers Really Want for Professional Learning shares findings from a national survey and outlines the most-identified priority training topics overall for CTE educators and by categories of administrators and teachers.
- Meeting the Professional Learning Needs of Career and Technical Education Teachers outlines the most-needed training topics, the challenges to meeting these needs, and the learning opportunities that work best.
- How Career and Technical Education Can Help Students Be College and Career Ready: A Primer provides an overview of the evolution of CTE in the U.S., reviews what it looks like in practice, and highlights issues CTE faces in the field.
AIR Services in Career and Technical Education
AIR staff are actively engaged in improving career pathways for all learners. We offer expertise in policy, research, and practice associated with high-quality, well integrated CTE and career pathways systems.
- We support states, districts, and educators by providing rigorous research, evaluation, data analysis, technical assistance, and capacity building related to CTE and the development of career pathways.
- We provide guidance on the development of industry-specific in-demand pathways, and assist states, districts and schools with using data to support and align CTE systems.
- We engage with the field to improve recruitment, preparation and professional development of CTE teachers.