Building all the paths...
The most recent data from the National DoE paints an interesting picture of the effectiveness and participation in career and technical education (CTE) across the country.
This data tells us that:
So why do only 37% of high school students participate in more than two CTE courses in the same cluster?
CTE centers are doing the work to ensure students know they are available, but they’re facing the challenges of getting students to stay cluster-focused.
Below, we go over why this may be happening and how it could be solved.
Most CTE centers across the country hold open houses for students and go into classrooms in the high schools and middle schools to introduce students to the idea of CTE. These opportunities expose students to the concept and value of CTE.
It’s because of these great efforts that so many students know what CTE exists and engage in at least one class. General awareness, though, isn’t enough.
General exposure isn’t enough to drive a concentrated effort. Students need to be engaged and guided to the best program for them.
YouTruth’s national survey of high school students found that only 46% said that their school helped them identify their career interests and only 49% helped them understand the steps to take in order to pursue the career I want.
When looking at the data, it’s not surprising that more students don’t pursue CTE— a majority of them aren’t helped in identifying their career goals or told how CTE can help.
Some states put emphasis on personal learning plans (PLP), but their adoption and execution can vary widely. Most PLPs don’t include details on which CTE programs might relate to a career and why.
To combat this lack of information, every student who is entering high school need to be shown what careers they’d most be interested in and what CTE programs available to them match their goals.
All students would benefit from taking career technical education courses. But, as we suggested above, they likely don’t know which programs they should focus on.
Beyond identifying an area of study, students need to have a clear idea of what they’ll get from CTE. Many students may not know that CTE can be a great first step to a career, even if they are planning to go onto four-year colleges, which 59% of students are planning on.
A student interested in marketing may not see the clear connection between a multi-media CTE program and their career goals. This same student could have access to in-demand marketing skills that they did not know they needed, like understanding video editing, all before leaving high school for a four-year college.
What is standing in between these students and completing multiple courses in a cluster is the connection of how that experience will help them along their career pathway.
In a previous blog post, we define what pathfinding is and how it improves the traditional pathway system.
Pathfinding technology can help address these critical challenges for CTE schools and their sending school partners.
It addresses this problem by providing a streamlined solution to help students understand themselves, what available programs are the best for them, and why they would be valuable for them.