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CTE Policy Watch

Research Findings Support Programs of Study


March 26, 2013

By: Catherine

NRCCTE researchers at FHI 360 recently completed a longitudinal study on Programs of Study (POS)-type initiatives developed prior to the 2006 Perkins IV legislation, and their findings support the link between POS and positive student outcomes.

Researchers Corinne Alfeld and Shakira Bhattacharya began with the desired outcome of POS-colleges awarding industry-recognized credentials or degrees to students who began a POS while in high school-and identified both key components of the programs and how students progressed through the programs to reach this end point. Major findings include:

  • The number of POS courses taken in high school had a significant relationship to students staying in the same Career Cluster in college and earning a college credential
  • There was a positive relationship between POS credits, academic credits and grades
  • The majority of students reported that POS was a source of motivation

The researchers found that all 10 components of the OVAE Program of Study framework were evident in the programs, but some were more critical than others. Interviews with high school and college instructors, administrators and counselors revealed what makes POS work, including:  

  • A shared vision of a seamless transition to postsecondary
  • Active advisory committees for each POS with representatives from local industries
  • Dedicated staff who work on creating links between secondary and postsecondary institutions and on advising students

Perkins IV mandated POS that link secondary to postsecondary education, include rigorous and aligned academic and technical content, lead to an industry-recognized degree or credential and possibly include opportunities for dual enrollment. The current legislation does not address issues such as staffing; however, Alfeld and Bhattacharya found it to be critical to POS success, as noted above. ACTE is working with Congressional staff, who are interested in building on POS in Perkins V and possibly ESEA, but only time will tell how the reauthorization process plays out.

You can use research findings such as these to help you tell the CTE story. The report includes a lot more interesting data, and I encourage you to read it in full!

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