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Virginia High School Graduates’ Career and Technical Education Credentials: Top Credentials Over Time and Across Student Groups

Region:
Appalachia
Description:

In Virginia, all high school students can earn either a Standard diploma or an Advanced Studies diploma, the latter being a college preparatory diploma. Starting in 2017, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) began requiring students graduating with the Standard diploma to earn a career and technical education (CTE) credential to encourage them to pursue opportunities that enhance their career readiness. This is likely to be particularly important for students graduating with the Standard diploma, as they have been shown to have limited success in postsecondary education.

This study examined the CTE credentials Virginia high school graduates most commonly earned from 2011 through 2017. The five most commonly earned CTE credentials in Virginia remained the same during this time period, but the percentage of students earning the Workplace Readiness Skills (WRS) and W!se Financial Literacy Certification credentials increased. Both of these credentials cover broad skills relevant to a wide range of jobs, as opposed to a specific occupation or industry. Although the new CTE requirement applies only to Standard diploma graduates, there were few differences in the top 10 credentials by diploma type, both in terms of which credentials were most common as well as the rates at which students earned these credentials. Regardless of diploma type, in 2017, 9 of the top 10 credentials were broad credentials that were not narrowly aligned to a specific occupation or industry. This study also looked at the top 10 credentials earned by 2017 Standard diploma graduates across a variety of student subgroups, including English learner students, economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, and racial/ethnic subgroups. English learner students and students with disabilities earned the top 10 credentials at lower rates than other Standard diploma graduates. Student credential-earning rates differed the most by geographic region, both in terms of which credentials appeared in the top 10 and the percentage of students earning the top 10 credentials.

This study highlights the need for additional analyses to help CTE stakeholders and policymakers understand the value of different types of CTE credentials. In particular, Virginia and other states might explore the relative value of broad CTE credentials that apply to a wide range of jobs and have become increasingly prevalent in Virginia compared with CTE credentials that are more narrowly aligned with a specific occupation or industry.

Publication Type:
Descriptive Study
Online Availability:
Publication Date:
January 2021