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Issue Briefs & Papers

Reflect, Transform, Lead: A New Vision for Career Technical Education

This five-part series dedicates an issue brief to each of NASDCTEc’s core principles for CTE:

The following issue briefs and papers cover a range of topical issues that are important to education, the economy, and CTE in America. To view/download the full document, please click on the title.

A Look Inside: A Synopsis of CTE Trends

This four-part series analyzes state CTE data and initiatives, with a focus on governance, CTE teacher shortages, funding, and Career Clusters™. The series draws its findings from a 2010 survey of CTE State Directors and compares responses to similar surveys conducted in 2003, 2005 and 2008.

State Policies & Career Technical Education

  • This paper, the result of a collaboration between NASDCTEc and ACTE, provides both an overview and a state-by-state review of policy changes occurring in 2013 across the country that have impacted CTE. It is our hope that by sharing information about the multitude of activities happening in CTE across the country, we can connect similar work occurring in different places and help our members better influence the adoption of positive CTE policies in all states.

Jobs and the Economy

  • This paper explores the strong connection and overlap between CTE and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, focusing on the elements of a high-quality CTE program of study that makes it an effective tool for delivering or implementing STEM education; how STEM is naturally embedded across the 16 Career Clusters; examples of states embracing the link between CTE and STEM; and areas where CTE and STEM programs can learn from and strengthen one another.

  • Area CTE Centers directly link education with the needs of local economies across the nation. Though not recognized as often as other institutions, such as community colleges, over 1,200 Area CTE Centers are operating in the U.S. Given the current fiscal situation, area CTE centers are an especially viable option for districts wanting to provide students with high quality CTE in a cost-effective way.

    Read more about the innovative work that area CTE centers are doing in Oklahoma and Ohio.

  • NASDCTEc partnered with the Alliance for Excellent Education to co-author this brief which highlights efforts from two states—Connecticut and Kentucky—to define work-based learning opportunities for youth participants, educators, and employers, and to create policies that provide greater access to these opportunities.

  • This data sheet details the Career Clusters in which high school and postsecondary CTE students are choosing to concentrate. The paper also shows the top five areas of the labor market by Career Cluster that are projected to be the largest and fastest growing by 2018. These data indicate that Career Technical Education (CTE) graduates with high school diplomas or postsecondary skills are preparing for careers in fields that are growing or in high-demand.

  • This issue brief explores ways that adult workers can best be positioned to succeed in rewarding careers in high-demand fields through CTE. It also describes Career Clusters that are projected to be in high-demand through 2018. Programs from Oklahoma and Ohio are featured.

  • Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce / National Research Center for Career and Technical Education / National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium

    NASDCTEc Executive Director Kimberly Green co-authored this report with colleagues from Georgetown's CEW and the NRCCTE. The report, based on a previous report by CEW ("Help Wanted: Projecting Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018"), analyzes how labor market needs relate to the sixteen Career Clusters and discusses implications for Career Technical Education (CTE).

  • Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce / National Research Center for Career and Technical Education / National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium

    This report provides state by state analysis of labor market needs related to the sixteen Career Clusters and discusses implications for Career Technical Education (CTE).

  • This paper describes the fifth, and last, core principle of NASDCTEc's vision: CTE is a results-driven system that demonstrates a positive return on investment (ROI). The brief includes examples of ROI for CTE and general education based on analyses from national organizations and states. Due to limitations such as lack of statewide longitudinal data, though, many states struggle to complete ROI analyses. Visit the "webinar" section of the website to listen to the corresponding webinar and to learn about the options states have for showing the benefits of CTE without conducting a full ROI analysis.

  • This paper describes the second core principle of NASDCTEc’s vision: CTE actively partners with employers to design and provide high-quality, dynamic programs. CTE provides rigorous academic and skills training to meet the expanding needs of business and industry. Two exemplary education-employer partnerships are featured: Northern Virginia Community College and State Farm Insurance.

  • This paper describes the first core principle of NASDCTEc’s vision: CTE is critical to ensuring that the United States leads in global competitiveness. According to several measures of global competitiveness, the ranking of the United States continues to decline. However, several states stand out as leaders in connecting education and economic development to increase America’s status. This brief highlights the accomplishments of Alabama and South Carolina in using CTE to attract and retain international businesses.

  • Oklahoma, Washington and Tennessee are featured for their states’ successful implementation of CTE return on investment studies.

  • While often discussed, “green jobs” can refer to a variety of occupations including: wind energy technicians, recycling director, sustainable agriculture specialist, and many more. This document describes our current concept of green jobs, and how green jobs and CTE overlap at the secondary and postsecondary levels.

  • This NASDCTEc and ACTE publication points out the differences between traditional vocational education and career technical education. Several benefits of CTE are examined including: dropout prevention, career prospects, 21st century occupations, and transitions for the unemployed.

High School Improvement

Standards and Education

  • Traditionally Advanced Placement® (AP) courses and exams have not been recommended for students in Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. This paper, jointly developed and released by NASDCTEc and the College Board aims to bust this myth by showing how AP courses and exams can be relevant to a student’s program of study across the 16 Career Clusters®.

  • Achieve and NASDCTEc have joined to pilot a project that helps educators address the challenge of aligning CTE and Mathematics content standards to create rigorous instructional tasks. Learn more about the project and read about the states who have taken part in implementing the pilot.

  • This paper describes the fourth core principle of the new vision for CTE: CTE is delivered through comprehensive programs of study aligned to the National Career Clusters Framework. This brief highlights the efforts of Arizona and Georgia to craft state policy and practice that will help implement effective programs of study aligned to the National Career Clusters Framework.

  • This paper describes the third core principle of NASDCTEc’s vision: CTE prepares students to succeed in further education and careers. While the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) provide a thoughtful framework for academic coursework, the standards do not fully address the critical “career” component of a student’s overall experience. To thoroughly prepare students for college and career, schools must integrate or align technical standards with the CCSS. This brief highlights the efforts of Kansas and Cisco to integrate CTE activities and skill requirements into the CCSS.

  • The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) is an effort promoted by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to lead states in developing and implementing a common set of robust standards. Learn more about the standards as of May 2011 and read frequently asked questions.

  • Adult Career Pathways integrate multiple levels of education with postsecondary CTE certificate and associate degree programs. This document defines adult career pathways, describes benefits of the pathways, and presents four program examples.

  • Dual enrollment programs allow high school juniors and seniors to take college courses and earn college credits. This handout explains dual enrollment, its benefits, and its relationship with CTE. Three sample dual enrollment programs are described.

  • This issue brief describes several factors that contribute to CTE teacher shortages and provides recommendations for improvement. State examples from Oregon, Alabama, and California are included.

  • School counselors play an integral role in guiding CTE students from secondary to postsecondary education or into the workforce. This brief highlights Missouri, Nebraska, and Utah for their effective models of CTE and guidance counselor collaboration.

Business and Industry