Career and Technical Education: Current Policy, Prominent Programs, and Evidence
This working paper from MDRC and co-authored by CTE Research Network member Rachel Rosen provides current evidence on the effectiveness of CTE at different educational levels and for specific subgroups, including students with disabilities and by gender. Together and separately, the education and workforce sectors have sought to address the challenge of students continuing to leave school unprepared for well-paying twenty-first century jobs, and both sectors are seeking methods to better prepare young people for viable economic futures. Many new, innovative programs have been developed at both the secondary and postsecondary education levels that seek to give students technical training for specific careers, general training to prepare them for the workplace, and work-based learning opportunities where they can develop connections to employers and the workforce.
This paper identifies areas where there is more CTE evidence as well as areas where gaps still exist. Findings indicate that while CTE instruction at the secondary and postsecondary levels could bolster students’ economic mobility by helping them gain postsecondary credentials and obtain higher-paying jobs, there are challenges involved in turning that promise into reality. Investments in evidence-based practices can give CTE programs a better chance at success.