The 5 keys of any successful Career and Technical Education program

A growing number of schools are investing in CTE. Discover what every good program needs

career-technicalSince its inception, the discipline of Career and Technical Education (CTE) has transformed into a rigorous educational program that continues to address students’ skills and training as they enter the national workforce.

CTE initiatives are quickly catching national attention, with many states, and even the federal government, drafting legislation in favor of implementing CTE programs in school districts. As school curricula continue to evolve to meet the needs of a global economy, here are five key components necessary for creating a successful CTE program.

Interactive Tools
Implementing technology in the classroom is rapidly becoming the focus of many school district initiatives to help students and educators effectively learn and grow in their programs of study. This developing trend is especially true for CTE programs, as more districts around the country adopt and implement CTE curriculum. With the changing global workforce, technology skills often play a core role in training students for a career or postsecondary education. Integrating technology into traditional lessons creates an interactive learning environment and allows for project-based experiences through a digital source.

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Relationships with Businesses
As part of their program of study, students are often required to fulfill an apprenticeship or internship at a business that aligns with their career goals and interests. These experiences help students gain a deeper understanding of the industry and the training that is needed to succeed. Building strong relationships with businesses and industry leaders is a basic foundation for a successful CTE program, as these relationships act as a supplemental resource to lessons taught in the classroom. Professionals offer their expertise about the knowledge, skills and competencies needed for a career, while also offering real-world scenarios of industry challenges.

Industry-Backed Certifications and Postsecondary Education
Along with building strong industry connections and learning through apprenticeships, many CTE initiatives offer additional benefits to students completing a career-training program. As they complete their regular coursework in the classroom, students are often given the opportunity to earn industry-backed certifications upon completion of a class or internship, giving students the necessary and practical training they need before graduating and entering the workforce. Additionally, students and educators have seen further success if the CTE curriculum is aligned to a postsecondary education program. Some school districts allow students to take college-level courses as part of their program, helping their transition into postsecondary education. States such as Kansas have passed legislation that seeks to stimulate interest in CTE programs by offering tuition reimbursement for high school students enrolled in college-level career and technical coursework.

Professional Development for CTE Educators
Educators are often only as successful as the training they receive. For educators to continue succeeding with their students, districts must offer relevant professional development opportunities that will advance the developments within a CTE program. In comparison to core academic teachers, CTE educators must fulfill more certification requirements in order to keep up with changes in the career field they teach. Ultimately, professional development opportunities should support and align CTE curriculum – ensuring teachers have the most up-to-date resources to use in the classroom.

Accountability and Standards
According to the Perkin IV legislation, states must maintain meaningful accountability for improving academic standards and building the necessary skills students need prior to entering the workforce. By outlining key definitions and methods of evaluating student performance, administrators are able to monitor the effectiveness and progress of their district’s CTE programs. Districts that collect data on successful performance standards for both students and educators can receive additional funding and incentives from the federal government for CTE-related activities.

CTE encompasses 94 percent of high school students and 12 million secondary and postsecondary students—numbers that serve to highlight the importance of building a skilled workforce for the future. As federal and state governments continue to draft legislation for CTE curricula and address this growing need, administrators and teachers must lead the way in helping create sustainable and successful CTE programs that will be used for generations to come.

Jeff Lansdell is the president of CEV Multimedia, a provider of CTE course materials.

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