While many may think of Career Technical Education (CTE) as operating only at the K-12 level, postsecondary-level CTE programs and pathways are serving millions of learners at institutions across the nation. With the majority of “good jobs” that pay a family-sustaining wage requiring at least some college education — such as a technical certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree or another credential of value — postsecondary CTE is more important than ever before in preparing learners for high-skill, high-wage and high-demand careers.
However, for CTE to fully meet its promise for learners and communities, it is critical that all CTE programs are held to the highest standards of excellence, as affirmed in Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE. Specifically, a high-quality CTE program of study should span secondary and postsecondary, include an industry-validated and state-approved course sequence and standards, lead to a credential of value, and be aligned with labor market demand.
To support states and postsecondary systems in their goals for high-quality postsecondary CTE, Advance CTE added six new postseconday-focused policy profiles to the Learning that Works Resource Center. These highlight effective practices at the state and institutional levels.
States and postsecondary systems and institutions face unique challenges and opportunities in the quest to ensure program quality and relevance. These challenges include navigating a variety of governance and delivery models, state and federal requirements, and multiple layers of program approval through regional and occupation-specific accreditors. At the same time, states, systems and institutions also have meaningful opportunities to support and fund those programs that are best serving learners and their communities’ workforce needs.
The new Advance CTE profiles explore the following topics and related state or institution examples:
- Career Advisement: San Jacinto College joined the Pathways Project (coordinated by the AACC) and through this initiative planned out a trajectory for each degree and certificate program that will lead the student through educational attainment to career opportunities after graduation.
- Credentials and Assessments: Oklahoma’s statewide initiative, Launch Oklahoma, supports the goal of 70 percent of Oklahomans between the ages of 25-64 attaining a postsecondary degree, certificate or credential by 2025.
- Data and Accountability: Middle Tennessee State University utilizes the student success management system technology, which helps with analysis of student data over time. This analysis provides predictive scores so that faculty can identify the students who are at risk of not completing a degree and intervene.
- Dual Enrollment, Articulation and Transfer: Washington State created Direct Transfers Agreements (DTAs) across all public colleges. This guarantees that a student who obtains a DTA associate degree from a public community or technical college will have completed the core requirements of a public four-year institution.
- Instructor and Leader Quality: The Community College Petrochemical Initiative in Texas, with funding from ExxonMobil, addresses workforce development in the Texas Gulf Coast. One piece of this initiative is community college faculty externships with industry employees.
- Work-Based Learning: Iowa’s Work-based Learning Intermediary Network aligns career interests of secondary and postsecondary students with the necessary postsecondary experiences for that career. The program offers work-based learning opportunities in order to prepare students for the workforce.
Meredith Hills, Policy Associate