For the past decade or so, every American president has sought to use career and technical education – or CTE – as a way to boost achievement and prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.
When the Bush administration signed into law the existing federal CTE policy in 2006, the goal was to increase “focus on the academic achievement of career and technical education students.”
Under the Obama administration, career and technical education was seen as a way to “prepare all students, regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances, for further education and cutting-edge careers.”
The current administration has taken the same stance – with the president stating in April that “vocational education is the way of the future.”
Academic research shows that taking CTE classes can benefit students by improving their odds of graduation, boosting their chances of participating in advanced math and science coursework, and increasing their earnings immediately after high school.
However, it’s not just CTE implemented in any old way that has proven beneficial. Rather, as a current education policy Ph.D. student who focuses on college and career readiness, I have discovered that the timing of CTE matters when it comes to high school completion and dropout prevention.
This conclusion is based on a research study that associate professor and education researcher Michael Gottfried and I conducted this past year, examining the impact that CTE has during different years in high school.