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This is the second annual report from researchers at the Career & Technical Education Policy Exchange (CTEx) to study how state contexts affect participation in high school CTE programs. Thomas Goldring, Celeste Carruthers, Shaun Dougherty, Daniel Kreisman, and Roddy Theobald provide the latest-available CTE participation data for Massachusetts (MA), Michigan (MI), and Tennessee (TN), and we add trends in Washington (WA), which is a new CTEx partner state. We utilize these data to learn how state contexts inform our understanding of what drives participation in CTE programs and how it might impact subsequent educational outcomes for high school students.

All states are required to report relevant CTE statistics under the federal Perkins Act. Yet, guidelines are sufficiently broad such that key definitions (e.g., program concentrators and completers) are not uniform across states. Because of this variation, any multi-state CTE analysis has limitations. We recommend considering unified definitions across states in future federal policy.

According to definitions used in this report, almost 50% of TN students, 40% of MI students, over 25% of WA students, and roughly 20% of MA students concentrate in or complete a CTE program of study in high school. We find that while White students are more likely to concentrate in a CTE program of study, these differences are largely driven by differences across schools. When we compare students within schools, much, and in some cases, all of the race and ethnicity differences in concentration rates are eliminated.

In two states (MI and TN), we find students with identified disabilities are less likely to concentrate in a CTE program, while in MA and WA they can be more likely—depending on the type of disability. We also show students reaching (at least) concentrator status are more likely to graduate high school and to enroll in two-year colleges, while they are less likely to enroll in four-year schools. This high school graduation advantage is particularly pronounced for students with identified disabilities.

Overall, we find wide variation both across and within states in concentrator rates and outcomes for concentrators and non-concentrators. This finding suggests that state-specific contexts play an important role in studying CTE, which is uncovered by access to statewide longitudinal databases.


Multi-State-CTE-Analysis_Appendix_20211104.pdf (513 kB)
Appendix to A Multi-State Analysis of Trends in Career and Technical Education

A Multi-State Analysis of Trends in Career and Technical Education