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Career and Technical Education


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FY Awards

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Dr. Corinne Alfeld
(202) 245-8203


The Career and Technical Education (CTE) topic supports research to understand the implementation and effects of CTE programs and policies on the education and career outcomes of learners.

Research under this topic addresses

  • CTE policies, programs, curricula, and instructional practices;
  • learners' exposure to and experience with CTE opportunities; and
  • the effects of participation in different types of programs on a variety of learner outcomes.

Learning outcomes include 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 program.


The Career and Technical Education (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 recognition of increasing policy interest in CTE in the United States education system.

Formerly called vocational education, CTE has historically prepared students for direct entry into work after high school. Today, CTE comprises training in the academic, technical, and employability skills and knowledge required to enter into and succeed in careers. As our economy continues to evolve and postsecondary education has become a pre-requisite for most skilled jobs, high quality high school CTE has become a launching point for a variety of postgraduate options, including further education in such fields as agricultural science, business, graphic design, health care, and engineering.

The expansion of state policy interest in CTE (ACTE, 2018) has been based on the assumption that CTE is an effective means of achieving college and career readiness. While there is some evidence to support this assumption, the Institute has established the CTE topic to better determine the nature and benefits of CTE programs. The Institute encourages researchers to examine current CTE programs, curricula, and instructional practices; students' exposure to and experience with CTE opportunities; and the effect of participation in different types of programs on a variety of outcomes. In particular, there is a critical need for more information about the mechanisms, impacts, and costs of CTE — as well as what types of programs work best for whom under what conditions — that policymakers and education leaders can use in decision-making. In addition, the Institute invites applications to develop and validate new assessments of, as well as applications to validate existing measures of, CTE learning.

See the Career and Technical Education (CTE) page to learn more about IES initiatives in this area. See the CTE Research Networks page to learn how IES is supporting the expansion of research in CTE.