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Interim National Assessment of CTE Released


May 23, 2013


Interim National Assessment of CTE Released

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development recently released the interim National Assessment of Career and Technical Education (NACTE). The report focuses on participation, outcomes and international comparisons of secondary CTE.

Similar to research findings we shared in March, the NACTE looked at coursetaking patterns from 1982 to the early 2000s and reported that:

  • more students invested in CTE are "explorers" who take 3 or more credits across occupational areas, as opposed to "concentrators" who take 3 or more credits in one field of study.
  • CTE students and non-CTE students are increasingly similar in their coursetaking, test scores and postsecondary attendance patterns.

The NACTE reviewed the National Center on Education Statistics Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 and failed to find any connection between CTE coursetaking and test scores or school completion. However, the authors also cited a study in Philadelphia that did find positive outcomes, such as:

  • attending a CTE high school increased the probability of students successfully completing the college preparatory math sequence.
  • attending a CTE high school was related to higher on-time graduation rates.

The researchers proposed that to better make sense of contradictory evidence on CTE's effectiveness, future research should take program variation and implementation quality more into account in their analyses.

In addition, the report noted the differences between CTE in the United States and vocational education abroad, particularly the higher percentage of students involved in CTE in other countries and those students' higher rate of CTE coursetaking relative to CTE students in the U.S.

An important point to remember is that the data cited in this report is older, predating the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV) and its focus on alignment, integration and accountability, primarily through Programs of Study. The final assessment is due by the end of the year and will include findings from research undertaken in the Perkins IV environment, as well as more details on Perkins IV implementation at the state and local levels and more on postsecondary CTE.

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