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Programs of Study, CTE Linked to Graduation, Academic Achievement


May 20, 2014


Programs of Study, CTE Linked to Graduation, Academic Achievement

The National Research Center for CTE has concluded a four-year longitudinal field study of students enrolled in and completing programs of study/career pathways at either specialized high schools that offer wall-to-wall programs of study or career academies within comprehensive high schools.

Program of study (POS) enrollment was associated with higher student graduation rates in one of the 3 districts studied, and earning CTE credits was associated with graduation in all 3 districts. POS enrollment was also linked with measures of academic attainment:
  • In West District, POS completers were more likely to have a higher overall GPA and a higher GPA in their CTE courses, as well as to earn more STEM credits, than the rest of the sample. POS completers also had higher GPAs than CTE concentrators who did not complete a POS.
  • In East District, each additional CTE credit earned corresponded to a .15 unit improvement in GPA, and POS completers were much more likely to have earned AP credits than the rest of the sample.
  • In South District, POS students had better GPAs but were less likely to earn STEM or AP credits than non-POS students. The researchers suggest that the POS students may have spent more time on POS-related activities such as internships than in advanced academic classes.
Across all three sites, both POS completers and comparison students planned to continue onto postsecondary education. POS students were more likely to report that they would continue to study a field related to their high school pathway.

These findings indicate that programs of study are helping CTE educators realize goals for student academic achievement, high school graduation and transition to postsecondary education.

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