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ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

Data Points to Shifts in CTE Coursetaking Patterns

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November 19, 2013

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Data Points to Shifts in CTE Coursetaking Patterns

According to an analysis from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), CTE coursetaking was on the decline from 1990 to 2009, while academic coursetaking increased. In addition, CTE coursetaking patterns shifted.

The primary decline was in what NCES classifies as general labor market preparation courses and Family and Consumer Sciences courses (NCES differentiates between these and occupational courses). Within occupational CTE:

  • Business and manufacturing courses saw the most declines, followed by computer and information sciences, engineering technologies, and repair and transportation.
  • Communications and design courses and health care courses grew the most, followed by public services, consumer and culinary services, and agriculture and natural resources.

The most recent data cited is from 2009, so we might expect some differences if we were to take a snapshot of CTE coursetaking today.

Another recent analysis of coursetaking patterns from the late 20th century through the early 2000s pointed to a decrease in CTE credits, as well as an increase in the percentage of students taking CTE at low concentrations and across multiple occupational fields. The researchers concluded that CTE is not a vocational track for students unequipped for college but is rather "an exploratory program for an increasing proportion of both academic and general curriculum graduates."

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