Friday, May 13, 2011

The Value of Career & Technical Education

Why Career & Technical Education Should Be a Priority for the U.S.:
Today’s vocational programs, often referred to as “Career and Technical Education” or CTE, have seen significant gains. The programs start with a specific career focus, such as health sciences, business, or technology. CTE programs provide students with preparation to take careers in specific fields or to continue advanced study in post-secondary programs. The courses are often project-based with outcomes aligning to skills needed for the workplace, not a multiple choice test. Students still memorize content, and they often take college preparatory courses. However, the rationale for this material is connected to the context of their courses.


The contrast between programs focused on testing and others like CTE that bring a more solid context to learning is clear. In many cases, program content is similar. However, immersing students in a specific career provides a stronger context for learning. Students can connect the rationale for learning new content to a career skill or objective. Instead of being viewed as a distraction, technology becomes a critical tool to give students 21st Century skills in creativity, critical thinking, and communications.

For our students’ success and for the future of the U.S. economy, we need to retire outdated notions of vocational programs. Cutting CTE programs that keep students engaged in school, while providing vital 21st Century skills, isn’t sound financial planning for our schools, students, or our economy. CTE has proven successful at engaging students in learning by putting subject content into a real-world context — and we need to continue to fully fund these essential programs.

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