The Opportunity Costs of Career and Technical Education: Coursetaking Tradeoffs for High School CTE Students
While supporters argue that career and technical education (CTE) may increase student engagement and prepare students for success in the workforce, detractors caution that CTE may inhibit students’ access to the rigorous academic coursework needed for college and high-status careers. This working paper seeks to better understand the extent to which CTE is associated with trade-offs within students’ high school curricula. Special attention is paid to how curricular trade-offs may occur differently among different student populations.
On average, results indicate that CTE courses do crowd out students’ enrollment in non-CTE elective areas, but that CTE does not lead to large declines in college preparatory coursetaking, although there are nuances for certain student populations. Overall, these findings counter longstanding narratives that CTE participation limits student access to college preparatory coursework.