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Career and Technical Education Opens Opportunities for High Schoolers

More states and school districts are foregoing the outdated “college-for-all” mentality and are instead showing students that there are many paths to a successful career. Students should be empowered to explore all of their options for future careers instead of being pressured into pursuing a degree that may not give them the skills they need.

In Case You Missed It via U.S. News, as more high schools offer sophisticated career and technical education programs, more young people will discover that an expensive baccalaureate degree is not their only option for achieving the American dream.

The Benefits of Career and Technical Education Programs for High Schoolers
By Kate Rix
December 27, 2022

The “vocational education” of years ago has evolved from wood shop and home economics into a powerful educational reform tool. Some 8.3 million high school students participated in what are now called career and technology education, or CTE, pathways in 2020-2021, up from 7.5 million the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

With courses that range from landscape design to culinary arts, CTE is part of a robust national approach to boosting high school graduation rates and preparing students for well-paying jobs. Many districts even partner with industry to align their course offerings with labor market needs.

Eleven years after Rashid Davis opened P-TECH Brooklyn, a public STEM-based career and technical high school, 44% of college graduates from the first class had been hired to work for the school’s industry partner, IBM.

The school’s two academic pathways are computer systems technology and electromechanical engineering technology - both of which hone the types of skills employers like IBM look for in hiring. A type of early college high school (also called a “9-14” school because it covers grades 9 through "14"), P-TECH Brooklyn integrates college courses into its curricula and offers both a high school diploma and a free two-year associate degree.

Since that first school opened in Brooklyn in 2011, P-TECH, which stands for Pathways in Technology Early College High School, has expanded to a network of more than 200 high schools throughout the United States, offering career pathways including health, education, advertising, television and energy technology.

“Our model is not just about job placement with industry partners,” Davis says. “It’s about taking advantage of the skills given to you. Some students don’t leave with an (associate) degree and choose to do college later, but they’re still better off in terms of preparedness than the traditional student.”

… High school students who complete at least two course credits in a career pathway have about a 95% graduation rate, according to federal data – roughly 10% higher than the national average. A 2019 study found that students who completed a CTE pathway scored significantly higher on the ACT composite math, science, English, reading and writing assessments than those who did not participate in one.

“The pendulum has swung towards ‘college for all’ and ‘high expectations for all,’ which we should have,” says Rebecca Wallace, assistant superintendent for secondary education and pathway preparation at the Washington State Department of Education. “What we also want to see is multiple pathways for all students.”

In Washington, industry advisory committees approve courses at the school district level and are responsible for making sure that courses align with local labor market needs.

Read the full article here.

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