Study: Tech classes correlate with better achievement

The higher average GPA for students who took technology classes represents their grades in other classes, because in Florida schools, technology courses that lead to industry certification are pass/fail courses.

“This finding counters any notion that the GPAs of students who took technology classes were inflated by the inclusion of grades in courses that some still perceive as ‘easy’ or less academically challenging than courses in other subjects,” the report notes.

What’s more, the similar rates of admission into four-year colleges for students who completed at least one technology course and students who did not “could help to dispel lingering perceptions that students who take CTE courses are less likely to go to four-year colleges and universities than other students, that these courses do not prepare students for college, and that these courses are less rigorous than other courses,” the authors write.

They add: “While it’s not yet possible to know whether technology coursework gives students an edge in postsecondary admission, the early findings suggest that it does not hold them back.”

Most students who took technology courses were male (66.8 percent), English-speaking (77.6 percent), and white (57.9 percent).

“While it may not be surprising that boys are more interested in technology than girls, it’s good news that these courses engage boys—a population that some see as disaffected in school,” the authors note. “At the same time, districts and schools might have an opportunity to engage more girls, English language learners, and minorities in technology courses, given the high demand for underrepresented populations in technology-related careers and, more generally, in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.”

Next steps

The report includes a number of starting points to help researchers better understand how technology coursework is related to student outcomes.

Those starting points include:

• Analyze baseline data on student demographics, academic coursework and performance prior to high school, and more longitudinal data on student performance after they take technology courses to draw richer inferences.

• Explore the trajectory of attendance and grades for students enrolled in technology courses, beginning early in high school.

• Generate and analyze quantitative and qualitative data on students’ reasons for enrolling in technology courses that lead to industry certification.

Laura Ascione
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