Career Technical Education

What is Career Technical Education?

Career Technical Education (CTE) programs are a sequence of courses that integrates core academic knowledge with technical and occupational knowledge and skills to provide students a pathway to postsecondary education and careers. CTE teaches transferable workplace skills in applied learning contexts to provide opportunities to explore high-demand career options, and gives students the technology and skills needed for success in adult life.

CTE programs help to connect students with high-skill, high-demand science, technology, engineering and math fields where many good jobs are waiting. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) defines “well-rounded” education as courses, activities, and programming in subjects such as English, reading or language arts, writing, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, geography, computer science, music, career and technical education, health, physical education, and any other subjects as determined by state or local educational agency, with the purpose of providing all students access to an enriched curriculum and educational experience.
Much of our work is driven by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, to improve career technical education and create opportunities to enter high-skill, high-wage, or high-demand employment in Minnesota for all learners. This Act provides an increased focus on the academic achievement of career and technical education students, strengthening the connections between secondary and postsecondary education, and improving state and local accountability. Access the full-length Perkins IV law.

On July 31, 2018, the President signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act into law.  This bill reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins) and will be referred to as Perkins V. Access the full Text of Perkins V (Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act).

Whether students take one CTE course or enroll in an entire CTE program, CTE is an Important part of every student’s well-rounded education. Regardless of the CTE pathway, CTE experiences build the transferable skills that lead to success in career and college. CTE classes inform students about how their skills apply to today’s occupations and also provide students with a realistic picture of their future in the world of work.

Personal Learning Plans

Legislation requires all students starting in 9th grade to have a Personal Learning Plan. This plan should include academic scheduling, career exploration, 21st Century Skills, community partnerships, college access, all forms of postsecondary training, and experiential learning opportunities. Visit the Personal Learning Plans page for more information.

High-Quality CTE Programs

The elements of high-quality CTE programs include:

  • An unduplicated sequence of strong academic and career and technical courses that incorporate applied, contextual, cross-curricular and interdisciplinary instructional strategies.
  • Exploration of careers within a career cluster and/or pathway through the identification of potential career opportunities and the postsecondary training and educational requirements of those choices.
  • Opportunities to participate in structured learning experiences and career and technical student organizations (CTSO).
  • Alignment and incorporation of secondary and postsecondary education elements such as curricula, standards and assessments.
  • Preparation needed for students to enter employment in a specific occupation that aligns with business and industry standards and may lead to an industry-recognized credential or certificate at the secondary level.
  • Preparation for postsecondary education. Career and technical education programs provide a purpose and rationale for academic preparation and aid students in meeting the entrance requirements for college programs.
  • Opportunities to earn college credit for college courses successfully completed during high school (e.g., dual/concurrent credit or articulated credit).

Did you know:

  • Approximately 12.5 million high school and college students are enrolled in CTE nationwide. In fact, the high school graduation rate for CTE concentrators is about 90 percent, or 15 points higher than the national average.
  • A recent Gallup-Lumina Poll found that U.S. business leaders say candidates’ knowledge and applied skills in a specific field are more important than where the candidate went to school or what their major was.  Students gain this technical knowledge and applied skills from CTE. (Source: 2013 Gallup-Lumina Foundation Business Leaders Poll on Higher Education)
  • A recent study found that 80 percent of students taking a college prep academic curriculum with rigorous CTE met the standard for college and career readiness, compared with 73 percent of students taking the same academic core without rigorous CTE. (Source: Southern Regional Education Board, High Schools That Work 2012 Assessment)
  • Students with a concentration in CTE are nearly 15 percentage points more likely to graduate high school than the national average. (Source: Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education data; Civic Enterprises et al., Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic: Annual Update, 2014)