Career-Technical Education is Good for Indiana’s Economy, Workforce and Careers

Last Updated by Shawn Wright-Browner on

 

High School graduation season is upon us. During this time of year, countless numbers of students will being making the transition from high school to college and career paths. How do we ensure that this transition is successful? In the coming weeks, we will be featuring blog posts that explore best practices in working to ensure college and career readiness.

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Indiana's state goal is to increase career, technical and vocational career pathways for high school students by engaging local employers and educators in designing demand-driven curriculum and providing applied learning opportunities.[1] 

Much attention has been given to Indiana’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses and programs over the last two years. The creation of the Indiana Career Council and Indiana Works Councils provides new avenues for conversations and collaboration among education and workforce partners at the regional and state levels regarding the best ways of improving the college and career readiness of Hoosiers. 

While clear targets are needed to effect meaningful change, it is important to understand the current state of Career and Technical Education in order to identify and expand upon existing strengths and to examine and strategize solutions where gaps and challenges remain.   There are three broad areas that could stimulate conversations:

  • CTE Enrollment
  • CTE Student Readiness - a factor of:
    • Academic Preparation – Graduation Rates and State Assessment Scores
    • Technical Skills Preparation – College and Career Pathways completion and performance on Exams and Skills Assessments
    • College and Career Readiness – Industry-Recognized Certifications and College Credits that CTE students earn
  • CTE Alignment to Indiana's Economy [2]

Career-Technical education (CTE) offers a “TRIFECTA”:

  1. Credit toward a high school diploma.
  2. Credit toward a college degree (dual credit).
  3. Certification in a chosen field.

Students who complete a CTE Program have the opportunity to graduate, start their college tenure and increase their lifetime earning potential.  What does that mean? A student who completes the Nursing Assisting Program and pass the certification assessment can work in a certified position while in college. 

Career and Technical Education is a great "Plan A" for many of our students as we fill the needs of our Indiana economy.  CTE provides career exploration opportunities that will result in opening doors to all career pathways.  Young people do not enroll in career programs because pathways are incentivized.  Students enroll in career programs based on abilities and interests, and CTE student outcomes and performance trends are quite remarkable.

High school graduation rates for CTE students who are concentrators (those who have earned at least six credits in a CTE pathway) averaged 94.7% in 2013, the highest graduation rate ever recorded for CTE students in the state. That was 6% higher than Indiana’s 88.6% overall graduationrate for all high school students. Note that graduation rates reported in the charts below include students who graduated with waivers.[3] 

Examining the alignment of CTE programs with the economic demands of the state can provide opportunities for constructive conversations, as long as there is consensus around what criteria and data are used to make those judgments. State and regional leaders must also consider how potential changes to programs could affect student motivation, enrollment and engagement—factors that appear to be strongly correlated to the positive student performance. 

Digging deeper into the reasons why Indiana students who complete a sequence of CTE courses outperform their peers is vital. However, it seems logical that students succeed at higher rates when they are engaged in active versus passive learning, in areas they find interesting and enjoyable and when they are completing rigorous college courses and work-based learning experiences that connect them with the “real world.” Perhaps this is the way all education should work.[4]

For more information and data, please go to www.dwd.gov.  For more information on CTE Programs, go to www.iacted.org or http://www.doe.in.gov/ccr  

Check out the following Indiana Career Centers for more information:

  • Area 31 Career Center
  • J. Everett Light Career Center
  • Heartland Career Center
  • Anthis Career Center
  • Walker Career Center
  • McKenzie CIT

What are your thoughts on career technical education? Do you know someone who has benefited from this type of schooling? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and on social media using #AmGradIndy.

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Shawn Wright-Browner studied Occupational Home Economics at Ball State University (class of 1988) and Secondary Administration and Supervision at Butler University (class of 1994). Wright-Browner’s teaching experience includes IPS and Lawrence North High School.  Her administration experiences include Lawrence Central High School, Assistant Principal (1995-2005) and J. Everett Light Career Center, Director/Principal (2005-present).

[1] https://www.mikepence.com/training-educational-pathways-for-adult-workforce/

[2] Report produced by Fleck Education Services, 9/2014

[3] Report produced by Fleck Education Services, 9/2014

[4] Report produced by Fleck Education Services, 9/2014

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