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Title:  Career and Technical Education Credentials in Virginia High Schools: Trends in Attainment and College Enrollment Outcomes
Description: In Virginia, there has been a long-term effort to increase the number of graduates who earn career and technical education (CTE) credentials. These CTE credentials are intended to provide high school graduates with additional preparation for college and careers. In 2013, the Virginia Board of Education added a CTE credential requirement to the Standard diploma for students who entered grade 9 for the first time in 2013 or later. Graduates can complete this requirement by passing an approved assessment and do not have to take any CTE courses.

At the request of Virginia CTE leaders, the Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia conducted a descriptive study of attainment rates of CTE credentials, completion rates of CTE programs of study, and college enrollment rates for Standard diploma graduates from 2011 to 2017, the years before and after the policy change. Education stakeholders in Virginia and elsewhere can use the results of this study to inform their CTE policies.

From 2011 to 2017, the percentage of Standard diploma graduates who earned at least one CTE credential increased from 23 percent to 91 percent. A similar increase occurred among Advanced Studies diploma graduates, even though the CTE credential requirement applied only to Standard diploma graduates. The attainment rates of CTE credentials increased for all groups of Standard diploma graduates, including groups based on demographic characteristics, federal program participation, and academic achievement. While the percentages of Standard diploma graduates who earned a CTE credential increased consistently from 2011 to 2017, their college enrollment rates dropped. The percentage of Standard diploma graduates completing a CTE program of study, which requires taking CTE courses that are not required to earn a credential but may still be helpful for later student outcomes, decreased in 2016 and 2017.

The study findings suggest a need to examine workforce outcomes for Standard diploma graduates to fully understand whether this policy is meeting its intended goals. In addition, the findings suggest a need to consider other methods to address outcomes for Virginia’s Standard diploma graduates, such as support for implementing practices with rigorous evidence of effectiveness for improving college and career outcomes.
Online Availability:
Cover Date: December 2021
Web Release: December 27, 2021
Publication #: REL 2022132
Center/Program: REL
Associated Centers: NCEE
Authors:
Type of Product: Descriptive Study
Keywords:
Questions: For questions about the content of this Descriptive Study, please contact:
Amy Johnson.