Since February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month—let’s look at what is going on in CTE training and research. Formerly known as “vocational education,” CTE generally comprises instruction in the academic, technical, and employability skills and knowledge required to enter into and succeed in specific occupations. CTE can introduce high school students to different career paths and help them build marketable skills or even credentials. For college students, CTE offers an entry point for new and returning students as they gain knowledge and skills in certain occupational fields.
Many policymakers consider CTE to be a key aspect of “college and career readiness.” In 2017, 49 states enacted 241 CTE policies, and 42 states enacted an additional 146 CTE policies in 2018. However, CTE practice and policy are way ahead of research—particularly in terms of research that can more definitively link CTE to specific outcomes and impacts. Over the past few years, IES has made some important strides in this area.
Following a Technical Working Group meeting on the future of CTE research, IES partnered with the Office of Career Technical and Adult Education to launch a new research network called “Expanding the Evidence Base for Career and Technical Education (CTE).”
The CTE research network is a five-year grant, to be led by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), with partners at Vanderbilt University, Jobs for the Future, and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Currently, three IES research projects have joined the new network, and we hope to eventually include up to six. All of these projects will look at the causal impact of CTE on student outcomes.
Throughout the five-year grant period, the Network Lead will bring together project teams and help to provide vision and support to the research projects as a whole. The Network Lead will also conduct research, provide CTE research training activities, and work to disseminate the Network’s research products so that they can reach the widest possible stakeholder audience.
The first meeting of the Network members occurred on January 8, 2019 in Washington, DC, where members began to set the priorities for collaborative work across projects. Network members agreed that it is critical for all research projects to provide detailed data broken out by CTE field and by student subgroups, including students with disabilities.
One key priority of the Network is to develop a working definition of CTE for research purposes (i.e., how to define a CTE student and how to measure CTE participation). A related priority is to identify or develop appropriate measures of CTE participation and outcomes that network members, as well as other CTE researchers, can use. Over the course of the grant, network members will have the opportunity to collaborate on a variety of activities.
We will be reporting on the Network’s progress periodically on this blog, but readers are also encouraged to visit the CTE Research Network website, housed by AIR.
Blog post by Corinne Alfeld, program officer in the IES National Center for Education Research (NCER)
For more information about the CTE research network, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Corinne is also the program officer for NCER’s CTE research topic, which will be accepting grant applications for all types of CTE research later in 2019! (Note that funded studies designed to measure the causal impact of CTE programs or policies may be eligible to join the CTE research network in future years). Sign up for the IES Newsflash to be notified when the NCER Requests for Applications are released.