Improving Career and Technical Education

CTE Community Conversations

Career and technical education has the potential to engage students through relevant learning experiences and, when infused with rigorous academic standards, to thoroughly prepare students for college and career success. Yet, in many areas of the nation and for a variety of reasons, career and technical education yet to achieve its full potential for students. Whether the right partnerships have yet to be formed, updated instructional approaches have yet to be implemented, or data systems have yet to be aligned, many students do not have access to the most effective career and technical education programs. Read Secretary Arne Duncan’s recent remarks on the need to revitalize and bring to scale effective career and technical education programs.

For this reason, the Department has established a career and technical education strategy group that is seeking solutions to ensure that all students are ready for, have access to, and complete college-career pathways leading to 21st Century jobs. The Department also is gearing up for the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (Perkins) Act, which is the primary source of federal funding for career and technical education. Although the legislation does not expire until 2013, a set of guiding principles will be formulated to ensure that this legislation most effectively supports strong college-career pathways in the future.

To develop its reform strategies and reauthorization principles, the Office of Vocational and Adult Education is holding a series of Career and Technical Education (CTE) Community Conversations across the country. These sessions are designed to gather feedback on four broad questions:

  • How can states and local programs better prepare students for college (without the need for remediation) and careers?
  • What has been your experience in implementing programs of study [career pathways] and what actions need to be taken to further support their availability and effectiveness for students?
  • What partnerships have you formed to implement your programs of study and what supports should be provided to continue and expand those relationships?
  • How do you measure your student’s success, particularly as it relates to college and career readiness, and what information (data) do you need to better track and improve program outcomes?

Comments are now available from the CTE Community Conversation kick-off session at the National Association for State Directors for Career and Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) Fall 2010 Meeting in Baltimore, MD.

Comments are also available from the following sessions:

Please share your comments about career and technical education on this blog (below) or via e-mail to


  1. Does CTE gives students the Real World uses for the information they receive in other classes?

  2. After reading this post and viewing Secretary Duncan’s outstanding remarks at the recent Career and
    Technical Education (CTE) Conference
    (, I put together a letter to him about the academic success we are having because of our CTE
    programs at Maine East High School.

    Maine East is a suburban Cook County high school that is very similar
    to a Chicago Public High School. Over 80 different languages are
    spoken in the homes of our students and close to half our students
    come from families that are below the poverty level.

    The link for the letter and referenced articles document how we achieve
    our “measurable academic outcomes.” One outcome that we take great
    pride in at Maine East is being consistently ranked in the “Top 5%” of
    all US high schools by US News and World Report and Newsweek magazine.
    We believe our CTE classes are a big reason why!

    Letter link:

  3. It is imperative that states and local programs better prepare students for college and careers. The first step in doing this is to EUDCATE and INFORM students and the community about what is available, such as Career and Technical Education (CTE), for example. As a future school counselor, I understand the importance of advertising various programs to the schools’ stockholders as a means of reaching out to every student and allowing each student to find something that “fits” for them.

    We live in a world in which numerous media outlets are at our fingertips, allowing us to give information to people easier than ever before. This starts with the basics of informational pamphlets, brochures, flyers, and etcetera. Other possibilities include websites, Facebook pages, and e-mail mailing lists. Furthermore, we also must not overlook the power of open houses. The advantage of open houses is that the public will be able to see for themselves what goes on in a Career and Technical Center! This should be followed up by Q&A sessions so those attending can ask questions and unravel myths.

    Informing the public of the various educational options is just the beginning, however. We must then make such educational options TANGIBLE for our students. So many students are unable to take these classes because the unrealistic graduation requirements we put on our students, not allowing for electives. CTE administrators must collaborate with the administrators of the general schools in hopes to find a way to incorporate the aforementioned graduation requirements within the CTE curriculum. For example, a student may be able to earn math or science credits by participating in a CTE course that involves math and science (such as an engineering course). With increased information comes increased understanding!

    It is hoped, then, that greater understanding of various programs will allow our students to find something that works for them … something that will better prepare them for college and/or careers!

  4. With regards to question one, there are several ways that state and local programs can better prepare students for college (without the need for remediation) and careers. However, the main “stepping stone” in the way of this ideal is funding. I am currently a grad student in the CTE area, so my lack of “hands on knowledge” may be questionable. The idea that Perkins funding is growing smaller each year is not good for CTE at all. I stand behind Brian above and support the renewal of Perkins funding in 2013.

    Different ways to better prepare students for college include focusing on a “performance-driven” education system, integrating academics within CTE and hiring the best teachers (with regard to accountability, motivation and results). Available resources need to be exploited to the fullest, as well as having local business and industry involved in the school’s activities.

    Although this is all very easy to say, getting it done is a whole different issue. No matter what state or institution, the leaders all have to be “on board” in order for change to occur. Get motivated! Be a role model to your students! Go the extra mile to ensure that these kids are better prepared for college!

  5. America is facing a competitive and critical moment in the global economy. We need to provide students and adults with the education and skills needed to help secure high-skill and high-wage jobs that will grow our economy and increase job-growth. Research shows that 20 of the fastest growing occupations, 10 require an associate’s degree or less and require on-the-job training or an associate’s degree. Career and Technical Education provides students with this alternative to the traditional four year college degree. In order to better prepare students for college and careers and help them successfully transition to post-secondary education, there are several guidelines to consider. Educators should inform students what options exist; these may include the many types of available jobs and colleges that are often overlooked. Students should also understand the requirements for the various options. This includes college entrance requirements as well as the requirements to succeed in various college programs. Career-related education does not shut off college options. In fact, research indicates that many vocational education students get college degrees, and “college and career” programs that prepare students to do even better.

  6. I am a CTE instructor in Michigan and am a supporter of the type of education that CTE provides for students. The method of education delivery in CTE is very progressive and should be the model by which some general education institutions follow. Having said that, there are some issues with establishing a true program of study.

    The theory behind programs of study is sound. Preparing high school students for their next educational endeavor is what high school is all about. Creating a program where the high school student can actually complete some of the requirements before they get to that next level is efficient and makes good sense. Done correctly, a program of study should work as a step process. For example, if a college program has 10 required courses for completion, the student should be able to complete course 1 and 2 in their high school CTE program and then move easily into course 3 at the college and continue from there. Implementing that theory is proving difficult. The major hurdle is the lack of communication and interaction between some of the key positions.

    The college instructor must be in close communication with the CTE instructor so that the appropriate material can be taught to the student at the level needed for the college program. The general education and CTE counselors must also remain in close contact with the programs so they can better advise their students as to their options and requirements. Unfortunately, the lack of consistent communication between these positions prevents most true programs of study from being anything more than just articulated or directed credit for the high school student.

  7. We seek to build a better future for American workers where we can compete on a global level because of the supreme quality of our products and services. To better prepare our students for post-secondary success educators need to enhance student understanding of contextualized academics. I am an aviation instructor in Michigan, and I see the first hand benefits of scenario-based-training every single day. Repeated studies have shown that the more tangible and meaningful academic subjects are, the better the mastery and retention rates become. With scenario-based-training lying at the heart of Career and Technical Education (CTE) these subject areas are becoming the absolute best practices we see in modern education. It would be a disservice to both our young people and our economy to reduce any type of Perkins funding.

    It has been said that business and industry spend more on instruction than the department of education does. Why? With the increase in purely academic credits required for graduation, learners are not making solid connections to real-world applications. This leaves them unprepared not only for the workforce, but ill-prepared to enter college. Educators and parents obviously want what is best for young people, but in many cases, that does not mean a 4-year university setting immediately following high school graduation. This sentiment is illustrated in detail in the recent Harvard report, Pathways to Prosperity. All available routes have to be communicated with an understanding of each student’s individual strengths and weaknesses. Both teachers and guidance counselors, as an informed and united group, need to have an understanding of what the military, local business, vocational training, community college, and universities have to offer.

    Transitioning our students has even become a special emphasis area for the National Center for Research in Career and Technical Education. One such study indicated that those CTE completers who scored highest on their corresponding National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) tests, with other factors controlled, were found to be 39% more likely to enroll in higher education (Klein & Staklis, 2010). In my opinion, this is not purely coincidence or correlation. It is at the very least a indicator of the power of CTE. Policymakers need to understand that it is not necessarily what students learn, it is how they are learning. CTE provides that necessary motivation and context for post-secondary success. I wholeheartedly support the continuation of Perkins funding and the programs it continues to assist.

  8. The subjects taught in CTE are the critical middle-skills foundation of our nation’s economy. Loss of Perkins funding to pay for these programs would be a huge mistake. CTE gives students hands on knowledge of careers. Integration of academics into CTE makes school work more relevant. Exposure to CTE in high school sets up students to be lifelong learners. Students who participate in CTE programs also have a higher tendency to continue on to college and perform better during their post-secondary education when compared to students who did not participate in CTE.The new Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements for graduation and CTE programs do not have to be mutually exclusive of each other. I support the renewal of Perkins funding in 2013 to fund CTE programs.

  9. States and local programs can better prepare students for college and careers by implementing more career and technical education in schools. CTE gives students hands on knowledge of what a potential career for them will look like. Integration of academics into CTE makes school work more relevant for the students as they can see why they are learning something in school and how it applies to the job or career. Some of my students continue on in accounting and have been successful. If they are not going for an accounting major they use the knowledge they have learned in accounting to build and grow a business, continue a degree where accounting will be used and just obtain knowledge so that they are familiar with reconciling a bank statement, looking at financial statements for a business and knowing how their paychecks are figured. If students in CTE decide to experience work-based learning during high school, the program that they are currently in in high school gives them the classroom and hands on knowledge to take to the work-based learning experience. Advisory committees are partnerships that we form in CTE and having students in work-based learning strengthens this partnership for the teacher, student and school district. Many of these partnerships with local businesses provide equipment, supplies and machinery to programs for the students to use and learn on so that they have what is used in business and industry. We also partner with local colleges and universities to offer articulated credits for students who have completed CTE courses. Many of the students at my high school have started college their freshman year with eight to 28 articulated credits from high school. We, as CTE educators, follow up on our students each year who complete our programs. We see if they are still in their career pathway or have decided to move to a different pathway. Not every high school student will attend college but with CTE they will learn a skills that can get them an entry level position right out of high school. They can work as they attend school to gain more education for that position.

    The potential loss of funding for CTE will be devastating to the students who want to learn a skill before they leave high school. Please support the initative to continue Perkins Funding.

  10. When looking at the question of how can schools better prepare students colleges and career one distinct thought comes to my mind. I feel as though the best way to better prepare students for a career or post-secondary education is to get a larger portion to participate in career and technical education. More students need to take advantage career education while in their secondary education. In schools today, teachers, counselors, and administrators push students to take core academic classes and enroll in a 4 year college in hopes of getting a bachelor’s degree. It is proven that on average 6 out of 130 4th grade students will graduate with a 4 year degree and be employed using that degree. Studies have also shown that a student who participates in a career and technical education program show a grater improvement in general academic scores on achievement tests. Studies have also shown that students who participate in career and technical education programs also have a higher tendency to continue on to a postsecondary education and perform better during their post-secondary education when compared to student who had no involvement with career and technical education programs. I feel that most secondary teachers and most administrators have forgotten what they are truly teaching their students for. I feel that most secondary teachers are teaching their students their academic area to go on to the next level of education when we should be giving our student the proper skills for a better life. A better life means giving our students the proper tools to secure a good career. Not all students need to learn calculus, but most students should know how to use a screwdriver, put together a resume, or write a professional email. My suggestion when proposed the question of how to better prepare our students for an education, career, or life will always be more Career and technical education opportunities.

  11. The field of Career and Technical Eduation needs to become more advertised through out communities. I find it difficult, without searching, for students and parents to know what benefits Career and Techincal Education programs offer and the kind of skills students can learn while getting college credit. If parents knew the hands on learning format of many tech center programs I believe there would be more of a push to select CTE for electives. CTE courses are preparing students for skills that can be used after graduation. Some of the skills they learn could be survival skills to provide for their own families one day. That’s another reason why advertising needs to be improved. Setting up community partnerships and collaborations to allow jobsite training and intership opportunities will also assist with students finding what they are passionate about. I believe the more information businesses have the more likely they are to form these relationships with CTE. The more businesses that are involved in job shadows and placements, the more we can advertise to the parents and students as well as post secondary schools when exploring options for credit opportunities.

  12. In regards to preparing students for careers and college, I feel that states need to take a step back from the level of requirements that are being forced on public schools to allow for graduation. I’m not saying that I feel that having strict requirements for graduation isn’t important, but rather that students need to have the opportunity to explore potential careers before they leave high school. If we can allow Career and Technical Education classes to fill that gap of career exploration as a high school requirement, students will not only gain information and knowledge that will help them in their lives after high school, but also if they decide that they want to gain any post secondary education they will have a better idea of some of the career options that are available. With this idea in place, more students will have a career planned prior to attending college. This will reduce the level of changes in major or general studies students that are currently in the post secondary system. If I had the opportunity in high school to observe some of the areas that I went on to study in college, I wouldn’t have spent two years studying something that I had no idea would make me miserable from day to day. I could have learned that earlier in my studies and avoided the cost and time lost pursuing that major.

  13. Comprehensive high schools need to better prepare students for life after graduation. CTE classes and programs do a good job of this, but not all students take CTE courses. Many high schools do not teach students about the world of work; students leave high school without a resume or a clue on how to go to an interview. So many schools are concerned about the MME curriculum they are failing to teach students about what happens after high school. This is why CTE is so important and is needed for high school students to be successful. It is no new news that we are falling behind in education in comparison to other industrialized countries.
    Students need the opportunity to explore their career interests by work based learning or job shadows. Doing this will teach students if their career choice is really something they are interested in and what type of post-secondary schooling or training is needed to after high school. When students realize that college is needed for most of their career choices early, they can begin to prepare for college.
    Additionally, more students would be open to and interested in college if tech centers and comprehensive high schools offered more direct credits. When students get their college credits in high school, they will see that college is an actual reality instead of some distant dream.

  14. In response to question two.I teach at a Community College and we just completed a Program of Study on our welding program. This was a good way to verify some of the things we offer like credit for work done and ensuring the flow from Secondary to Post-Secondary education is a smooth process. During our study, we found some areas where we could grant more credit for the work done in one of the high-school programs. This process does work and helps the students understand how high school and college programs work together. We have many college students who come out of high school working in the welding field and are taking college classes. Many technical fields will not require a four-year degree but by getting the proper start in high school can give them a head start in the working world. The program of study helped us map out a plan for students in high school and college. This plan makes college seem closer to them and have an interest in what programs are available to them later on.

    The overall program of study went well but was somewhat confusing. When looking at reports on studies from other schools, there were many differences between them. A template or common form would help to make sure the studies are done the same way.

  15. I am a CTE teacher in Michigan, and am very concerned at the potential loss of funding from Perkins Grants to help fund CTE programs. Having recently read the Harvard Report: Pathways to Prosperity, it seems clear that jobs in the technologically advanced second half of the 21st century will require more than a high school diploma, and will not require a BA.

    “There will also be a huge number of job openings in so- called blue-collar fields like construction, manufacturing, and natural resources, though many will simply replace retiring baby boomers. These fields will provide nearly
    8 million job openings, 2.7 million of which will require a post-secondary credential. In commercial construction, manufacturing, mining and installation, and repair, this kind of post-secondary education—as opposed to
    a B.A.—is often the ticket to a well-paying and rewarding career.”

    CTE programs teach our future citizens the technical skills required for successful employment in the manufacturing and or service sectors. There is a reason we, the United States, are no longer are on the top of the list when it comes to the manufacturing. We have put all of our efforts into “college for all” and our trades have suffered. Keep Perkins monies coming to CTE programs so that educators and schools in general can continue to stay on top of technology enabling us, the United States, to regain some of the status we once had in regards to our quality and workmanship.

  16. Recently Harvard published “Pathways to Prosperity” which addresses preparing young Americans for the 21st century. Studies show that students who experience vocational integration through work experiences and learning are more likely continue post-secondary education (OECD, 2008). I believe we need to give students and educators better information about the opportunities in Career and Technical Education.

    1. Providing the student with opportunities for career exploration within the career pathway.

    2. Provide information about college and the labor market which tells students about desirable career options and steps they can take to get them.

    3. Provide useful evaluations that provide usable information to students, employers, and colleges about students’ strengths on diverse valued dimensions.

    4. Collaborate with industry to provide work-based learning, internships and job shadowing opportunities. This has become difficult and may require grants or incentives to encourage our community and industry to partner with our local schools and tech centers.

    5. Willingness/ability to think “outside the box”.

    At the Careerline Tech Center in Ottawa County, Michigan, I teach the Healthcare program. Last year I had over 35 students qualify to take the Certified Nursing Assistant test through the State of Michigan. I had over a 98% pass rate (I had 32 students take the exam). Most have a position within the community as the Certified Nurse Assistant. Many have gone on to college (both 2 year and 4 year) and are putting themselves through college utilizing the opportunities that they have earned in my program. I have offered Direct Credit in my program in which 40% of the students participated. Several of these students were nontraditional college students. Students have been very successful in my hands-on program with validates the data regarding student performance. They stated that they hadn’t planned on college, but left my class with 5.5 credits, so decided maybe they are college students after all!

  17. I work at a small regional tech center and we do not have a community college or 4 year college in our county. So while we believe the framework design is a really good one, on a local level,it does not always translate into clear opportunities for our students. We have reached out to colleges in our region but sometimes feel like second class citizens because we are so small.The partnerships we have been able to make are very limited and we tend to find they are tailored to larger school districts and then handed to us.Sometimes they even have another school districts name on it. I believe these programs of study are very important to our students’ success in post secondary education because we use them as a tool for career exploration and post secondary planning and placement. If we can sit with a CTE student and show them a plan that will take them from our CTE programming into college and then to graduation and job placement, I think the fear of the future is removed and students can see a realistic and doable path. And that equates to a student going on to college and then to a viable career. I think we are on the right track and need to continue with programs of study, but we need to have a more detailed template for a common program of study for all students to move from a particular CTE secondary program to a post secondary program as I believe it was designed to do.

  18. As a CTE instructor of business courses one of my job is to encourage career exploration. These courses allow students an avenue to help them make a more effective career choice. Curriculum guidelines are set by well researched standards. Teaching employability skills are life tools. CTE is for everyone. Skills for the workplace are essential. Employability skills include topics such as resume writing, interviewing tips and practice, and completing job applications. Other workplace skills include being a team player, attendance, initiative, honesty and many more skills crucial to success in any career. Exposing students in high school gives them a head start on achieving or even making a final decision about what you want to do for a career.

  19. Q: How can states and local programs better prepare students for college (without the need for remediation) and careers?

    A: Perhaps the question should be, “How can states and local programs better prepare students for college (without the need for remediation) AND/OR careers?”

    Why are we pushing students to all go on a college track, especially if that means a 4-year college/university, or another type of higher ed? Are we ensuring in this process that we are including preparing students for vocational programs such as the fantastic diesel mechanics programs at Wyo-Tech? You cannot test creativity or application of knowledge on a standardized test, especially if reading comprehension is not the strong suit of a student.

    As an individual who firmly believes in lifelong learning, has gone on to earn a Masters in Education and am currently working on my PhD, I understand the value of college and further education. As a vocational agriculture teacher, I also understand that I have students who are NOT college-bound kids, nor should they be. These kids have skills, interests and abilities that are not those held in high esteem at a collegiate level. In college, regardless of the program, the focus is on reading and writing. These career-ready kids, while obviously needing to be able to read and write on a level to allow them to function well in society and in their chosen career, need other skills: skills like those needed in diesel mechanics, production agriculture, horticulture, agronomy, design of any type… While some college majors can certainly help some of these kids, the focus on their special abilities of problem identification and solving in their interest field and the students experiences should be recognized as well.

    In his 2006 report to the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, Wiley closed with this comment: “higher education has fallen out of step with business, science, and everyday life” (p. 7).

    I will close with a story about one of my students, who is now a very successful seed salesman and beef and grain producer. He was pushed by many to go on to college upon graduation. He chose not to, and took some heat for it. Upon graduation, based on the personal and CTE work he had done during high school, he took a position with a seed company and went into business with his family farm. Now, the only debt he holds is that of building the storage he needed for the seed warehousing. He does not have thousands of dollars in educational debt that in the end MIGHT have landed him the same job.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share.


    Wiley, D. (2006, February). Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education. Presented to the Panel on Innovative Teaching and Learning Strategies. Retrieved from

  20. The technology training and employability skills taught in the career and technical skills classes that I teach are crucial for all students at all academic levels. Students can learn real world situations and participate in hands on projects and activities that simulate the jobs they may have in the future. It helps students learn to become good citizens and remain involved in their communities.

    As a CTE Department chair I see all the activities and community service projects that our students in DECA, BPA and FFA are involved in and know that these are leaders in our classrooms and will become future leaders in our communities.

    Without financial support many of these programs will be reduced as core curriculum in Reading Science, English and Math continue. I can assure you that students in CTE classes are reading, using math skills and science in all of their classes. Many of our students flourish in our hands on CTE classes and can see how the real world uses these basic skills in a more practical approach.

    Our school has participated in many cross curricular projects that were funded with Perkins or Tech Prep Funding. Our CTE staff works beyond contract hours and writes grants and spends time developing these programs for our students. Without the funding from Perkins these projects would not be funded.

    A vote for sustaining Perkins is a vote for students.

  21. I would suggest that the development of personal and social skills for on the job preparation, the ability to be a team player, and following the one rule I use in my Co-op/MOC classroom is: “Be where you are supposed to be, when you are supposed to be there, doing what you have been asked to do, when you have been asked to do it, not when you choose to.” In this golden rule is the development and understanding of taking the initiative to learn and develop new skills at all times.
    I also believe that different areas of the nation can develop job preparation skills by using what is indigenous to that region. I would like to see larger school districts offer curricular development areas in agriculture ie. farming, raising animals and realizing profits from it for the classes to develop and grow. Other parts of the nation could do the same for whatever they are known for. Growing vegetables on gardent plots and having a farmers market. Raise chickens for eggs etc. It’s endless what could be done.
    I have written a handbook for my class that serves as a good model for the program that I have in my highly diversified school district but does not include any of the aforementioned possibilities.

    Thank you for this opportunity.

  22. I have worked with Math-in-CTE program to help show and demonstrate how traditional math relates to the CTE area. We are working on our written skills in the whole high school and having students learn how to express themselves in print. Both of these have helped my students develop their skills in my shop by be able to to take “our” text and figure out a way that they can apply their reading of shop articles and apply the math to do the projects I ask of them. How do I measure the success of my student by how well the follow the instructions I give , how well they adapt different situations that come up and how well the “tell or write” about their project they do.
    I wish the people that make the rules for us would come in and see what we are working with machines and students, how we are using the funds and equipment we get, and how we are trying to provide and train WORKERS for the future or atleast point them in a direction for a skilled job. Thank you!

  23. First of all, CTE is what some students live for. Our school district focuses on Continuous Improvement, the funny thing is, most CTE Teachers are working harder than ever to show where Math, Reading and 21st Century skills are being included in their courses. At the same time, the core areas are working to “learn” on how to use different strategies for educating their students, never once looking outside of their textbooks to see how CTE can assist them. How can we prepare students for college, or career?? That is easy, teach them what they need to know and relate it to where they will use it outside of the walls of the school. How can we assess student learning?? Well, in many CTE areas, you cannot measure what a student knows or can do with at paper pencil test. I would rather have the pumper who knows how to repair leaks, then someone who knows how to pass a test but never completed the task at hand.

    Current Partnerships I am personally working on for my Agricultural Education program are as follows.
    1. Pursuing grants to purchase hand held and equipment GPS units from Ag Leader and John Deere, to teach students what the Production industry is using for precision farming. How do you measure or assess the benefits of this? All hands on, we will run about 150 acres of test plots, try to test and cut down production costs, but raise the production level of the crops.
    2. Working with the Local Community College to on our Program of Study to have smooth transition from High School to Community College. Also work closely with them on updating curriculum, workshops and teacher professional development.

    3. Working closely with several coops, ag businesses and the local Farm Bureau to continuously review our AG ED Curriculum with our Advisory Committee. This allows us to stay up to date as well as know exactly what the future employers are looking for in students so we can provide them with successful employees. GOAL Is to keep as many students interested in Agriculture and keeping them in our area.

    Most schools are struggling to keep up with the fast pass of technology. If you look around our world, many others are on a much faster pace of replacing updating technology so that students are graduating with the newest and greatest toys. In our school all teacher have a ok computer, we have 2 ok laps but computers are anywhere from 1-10 years old.

    TO ME it is somewhat simple. Education is power, and without providing quality education for youth, we will see a slow and steady decline in our nation’s power on the global scale. In Agriculture we are expected to FEED THE WORLD with less, so how do we do that?? With education and technology.

  24. Preparing students requires an environment where relevant, hands-on experiences and activities are applied in real-life situations. Allowing instructors to gain real-life experience also helps – summer internships, trainings, relevant Professional Development, etc.

    Our Programs of Study project has been frustrating at best. So many answers to the same questions. We have finally identified the route that we’re going to take and have developed a strong preliminary drawing board. I am excited to have these tools available to use when assisting students in making course selections to support career goals – for the 30% of students who have an idea what they want to do…. Students are going to need more assistance earlier choosing career paths in order to set up secondary and post-secondary goals.

    Our local consortium of ag instructors has finally been part of a new advisory committee which will give us more current best-practices and advice. We look forward to utilizing this resource. Also, sharing amongst ourselves will continue to improve as we work together and all our programs experience more success due to collaboration with other instructors and programs who have diverse strengths.

    One final, somewhat unrelated, thought…..

    On Perkins – through the past three years, I have heard administrators say (over and over again), “At what point do we decide that the amount of effort it requires to receive Perkins funding (the applications, forms, data collection, meetings, trainings, PD, etc) is not worth the amount we receive?” That is a valid point. Our district receives around $7,000 which is “split” among four programs. I am also concerned about the continuation of Tech Prep funding for schools.

    Our students are learning life-long skills which they’ll use for careers, hobbies and volunteering. RELEVANCE.

  25. With the Math in CTE process I have witnessed the Math teachers taking an active part with the AG and Industrial Tech teachers–when we started planning lessons it was like a light bulb turning on for the math instructors–they had no idea how much math the CTE teachers are teaching and using in their content areas. The relationship building was awesome and the math teachers were learning strategies from the CTE instructors and like wise.

    Which leads to the question–what career do you NOT have to read, do some math and use a computer?

  26. On school improvement visits, I commonly see/hear that CTE instructors are integrating academics, but I rarely see/hear that academic instructors are integrating contextual learning through real-world application of academic knowledge and skill.

    I am an “aggie” but I agree we must break down our silos and work together to help all learning styles achieve.

  27. In response to question #1, we could better prepare students for their career ambitions if we made career connections in all our classes and helped students utilize program of study templates with their personal plans of study (PPS) to give meaning to their education. (Don’t forget to educate and include parents here–these weren’t around when they were in high school.) PPS is required for MSIP, but too often it is seen as the couselor’s role, when in fact it is everyone’s role to help students see meaning in their education and then raise our level of expectations that students persist at the highest level of education they are capable of now, to help their chances of becoming the person and achieve the occupation they are interested in later. Many of our students don’t see this. We also need to better communicate amongst our schools on what is occurring with career education at different grade levels of education so district-wide & state-wide we can all share the same vision and move our education forward.Career Center program offerings are an extension of course offerings from the high schools, let’s work together and break down the silo’s of “us” and “them”. We both have the same goals of providing a quality education for our students.
    When I asked a MS student what did she think of her education she replied; “It is boring. We do the same stuff everyday.” When asked how could we make education better she said, “Make it more project based and fun.” Obviously, we have much work to do!

  28. Another area of concern is the dearth of preparation programs for CTE teachers. While many highly competent teachers are preparing for retirement, we need to find a way to entice skilled industry professionals to a teaching career. However, the old model of “here’s the textbook and a room key” will not benefit our students or our profession.

  29. I tend to agree with both Fred and David regarding the use of Perkins money.
    Another area of concern to me is the big loophole that permits Perkins money to go to individual school districts without a mandated portion (COL adjusted) going to the area secondary technical centers providing the CTE programs not available to the individual school districts. The per student contribution from school districts (their Perkins grant funds) has not increased in over 12 years. In addition, there has been no significant increase in the State CTE agency funding (their Perkins distribution) to Centers in the same time period. To base Center funding purely on a fixed per student enrolled or FTE is a ludicrous.

    Furthermore, there is no attempt in the Perkins legislation to provide for technical equipment upgrades. Industry-mandated equipment changes could, easily, destroy any CTE budget, and, yet, to provide contemporary, job-ready content and skills mastery we must have the right equipment. The fallacy of ObamaCTE policy is that it provides NOTHING for equipment upgrade to existing programs!

    Everyone expects industry to just donate this stuff. IT JUST ISN’T HAPPENING! Somebody higher-up needs to be “jaw-boning” with industry and developing a new means of keeping CTE skills training upgraded with the appropriate equipment!

  30. My experience with Perkins has been that it funds “seed” money to establish new career and technical education programs. But once a program has been established, the district or state must supply the funding to continue and maintain the curriculum. With our hard-pressed economy, districts do not have have the funding to maintain these classes and many are either stalled or dropped. The fields of Technology and Engineering are changing daily. This requires annual update of curricula, lab equipment, tools, supplies, and materials. If the funds these items are not built into the school’s budget, teachers will not be able to update their courses to remain current with today’s technology. As a result, STEM programs will not reach their full potential; students will not have the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in our global economy. I would like to see Perkins fund CTE programs on both levels; first, to fund the new programs and second, to provide funding that maintains those established programs as long as the schools continue to meet the framework as outlined above.

  31. I hope that all valid forms of CTE delivery will be endorsed by the Department, including the traditional model in which vocational coursework run parallel to academic coursework. While today’s CTE is much more academically rigorous than traditional approaches, skill attainment must still be paramount, not college preparation or theoritical/decontextualized knowledge. I fear that only trademarked models will be endorsed (like Linked Learning Programs), which claim to serve all interests (college prep, workforce development, workbased learning, etc.); such program may be overly expensive for districts suffering budget shortfalls, and will sacrifice hands-on, technology-rich, industry-relevant skills training for more academic-oriented courses.

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