How Career Education (CTE) in High School Affects Students’ Success

Is career education a good idea for high school students? That’s the question The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which provides educational research and analysis, set out to discover in its recent study. “We wanted to know whether the students who participated in CTE (career and technical education)—and especially those ‘concentrating’ by taking a sequence of three or more courses aligned to a career in a specific industry—were achieving better outcomes than their peers,” said the report’s researchers.

And, it turns out, such students are doing better.

The study reviewed data on high school students in Arkansas, a state that recently implemented new career and technical education programs to coincide with the current labor market. The report concluded that high school students do benefit from receiving career and technical education. According to the report, “Arkansas students with greater exposure to CTE are more likely to graduate, enroll in a two-year college, be employed, and have higher wages.”

These findings are significant for students across the country because they convey the growing importance of career education. Unfortunately, some schools and students are under the mistaken and outdated impression that career education is only for a small section of students who are not planning to continue on to higher education. As a result, some schools do not even offer career education programs. In reality, today’s career programs are far from the old-school, vocational tech that students in previous generations remember.

The report concluded that “the more CTE courses students take, the better their education and labor market outcomes.” In fact, they found that even if a student takes just one additional career-oriented course more than the average, they will have a greater chance of graduating from high school and enrolling in a two-year college in the next school year!

Read the full report on Fordham’s website and get a quick overview on their easy-to-read infographics such as this one:

Fordham image of Benefits of CTE Coursework

If your local high school does not offer a career education program, you may want to consider other school options for your student. K12, the leading provider of online education, offers a variety of career-focused courses that help students determine and prepare for their future path, adding more than 20 career and technical education courses to its national catalog in the past two years alone.

K12 has also launched unique career academies in some states, including Destinations Career Academy of Wisconsin, Destinations Career Academy of Colorado, Destinations Career Academy of Nevada, and Idaho College and Career Readiness Academy (IDCCRA). And some K12 schools, such as Cyber Academy of South Carolina, Ohio Virtual Academy, and Utah Virtual Academy, feature special career programs. Visit the Destinations Career Academy website to learn more.

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