High-quality CTE Framework Development

High-quality CTE has become a national catchphrase in use by policymakers, practitioners, and education and workforce development stakeholders. But what is high-quality CTE? How should this term be defined, and can it be used to evaluate programs, determine areas for targeted improvements and recognize successful elements that should be scaled?

To bring clarity to this conversation and help CTE educators and administrators develop and improve the quality of their CTE programs, ACTE has created an evidence-based framework defining high-quality CTE across 12 elements: The ACTE Quality CTE Program of Study FrameworkTM (2018 version) and a companion self-evaluation instrument, available in print and online.

The 2018 version is the result of research, several rounds of feedback and pilot testing. Learn more about the development phase of the framework below:

  • Defining High-quality CTE: Contemporary Perspectives on CTE Quality (July 2015): This paper examines a broad range of documents from a variety of sources, ranging from white papers and national organization positions to organizational standards and rubrics. Findings from the research indicate that these guiding frameworks mirror ongoing trends in successful CTE programs, while still containing a broad diversity of tactics for implementing high-quality CTE programs of study. This diversity of scope and structure among  frameworks sets the stage for conversations to establish clarity and consistency related to high-quality CTE, particularly as it relates to individual local programs.
  • ACTE High-quality CTE Framework Draft Version 1.0 (November 2015): Following the release of the above paper, ACTE began development of a high-quality program of study framework based on a deeper analysis of the national frameworks addressed in our paper as well as supplemental national and state quality documents. The draft ACTE quality framework elements and criteria are designed to apply to single, local CTE programs of study spanning secondary and postsecondary education, although they may be adapted to other units of analysis.
  • ACTE High-quality CTE Framework Draft Version 3.0 (November 2016): This new draft of the Framework incorporates feedback received over the prior year, including from focus groups, expert review, surveys, and additional research on key issues.
  • ACTE High-quality CTE Framework Beta Version 4.0 (March 2017): Final feedback was incorporated and language in the Framework was standardized across elements. Beta Version 4.0 was pilot tested in 2018. Pilot volunteers completed the self-evaluation instrument, and this data was correlated with program-level Perkins performance data. Results show a significant positive relationship between scores on the self-evaluation rubric and performance on the Perkins accountability indicators for technical skills attainment and for completion/credential attainment. In addition, pilot participants completed a short feedback form about their experience using the evaluation instrument, and a few participants also took part in in-depth interviews about the process. The majority of participants found the evaluation instrument easy to use and reported gaining new knowledge about their programs. We concluded pilot testing in fall 2018 and incorporated feedback from pilot participants into the 2018 version of the framework.