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Career and Technical Education


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FY Awards

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Dr. Corinne Alfeld
(202) 987-0835


PDF File FY 2024 84.305A (PDF: 846 KB)
MS Word FY 2024 84.305A (DOC: 346 KB) CLOSED

The Career and Technical Education (CTE) topic supports research on the implementation and effects of CTE programs and policies on education and career outcomes. Research on CTE is needed to answer questions about the promise of CTE for increasing the relevance of education for future careers and lifelong learning. Research under this topic addresses CTE policies, programs, curricula, and instructional practices, including career pathways; learners’ exposure to and experience with CTE opportunities, including work-based learning (WBL) connected to a formal education program; and the effects of participation in different types of CTE programs on a variety of learner outcomes including mastery of CTE content or skills as indicated by course grades or credits earned, technical skills, assessment scores, industry certification, or associated labor market outcomes in a field related to the CTE training.

Below are examples of research that have the potential to lead to advances in the field.

  • Development of reliable and valid assessments of technical, occupational, and career readiness skills
  • Exploration of the associations between the qualifications, recruitment, professional development, and retention of CTE teachers and faculty and learner outcomes, including labor market success
  • Impact studies of new initiatives, such as career pathways and apprenticeship programs, on CTE achievement, attainment, and labor market success
  • Exploration of how competency-based education and middle school CTE programs might support CTE achievement and academic attainment

Learning outcomes include indicators of mastery of CTE content or skills such as CTE course grades or credits earned, technical skills, assessment scores, industry certification, postsecondary degrees or certificates, or employment outcomes in a field related to the CTE training.


Formerly called vocational education, Career and Technical Education (CTE) provides learners with both technical and employability skills for a variety of careers. CTE is widely considered a key part of learners’ preparation for college and careers at the secondary level, and CTE courses offered at the postsecondary level instruct learners in the specific skills needed for employment in particular industries.

The CTE topic began as a Special Topic in the FY 2017 Education Research grants competition, and it was competed again as a special topic in FY 2018. It became a standing topic in FY 2019.

In FY2018, IES created a CTE Research Network to expand the evidence base for CTE. The FY2018 Network Lead’s projects, as well as the research conducted by the six network member projects, created a solid body of rigorous evidence for CTE programs, policies, and practices as well as training over 100 participants in how to conduct high-quality CTE research.

See the Career and Technical Education (CTE) page to learn more about IES initiatives in this area.