Today, Advance CTE, in coordination with the House and Senate Career Technical Education (CTE) Caucuses held a briefing focusing on how to combat negative stereotypes about CTE, and more effectively communicate the many benefits of CTE with parents, students and additional critical audiences. The briefing, “Communicating the Value and Promise of CTE,” highlighted the key findings from research that Advance CTE commissioned with support from the Siemens Foundation. Kate Kreamer, Advance CTE’s Deputy Executive Director, moderated the briefing and shared some of the most important findings from this research, including:
- CTE students and their parents are overwhelmingly more satisfied with their education compared to non-CTE students. In fact, 82% of CTE students are satisfied with their ability to learn real-world skills in school, compared to only 51% of non-CTE students;
- College and careers are both key aspirations for parents and students;
- Parents and students are both attracted to the ‘real world’ benefits of CTE programs. In fact, 86% of parents and students want the opportunity to gain more real world skills in high school;
- CTE relies on champion messengers such as school counselors to convince them that CTE is a good option for their education; and
- In addition to ‘real world skills,’ the terms ‘exploration’ and ‘finding your passion’ were other messages that resonated with parents and students.
The briefing highlighted these findings and began with opening remarks from Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA), who emphasized CTE as “an important rung on the ladder of opportunity,” and its ability to provide a pathway to in-demand and high-wage careers. He also discussed the necessity to communicate effectively about CTE to combat CTE’s stigma issue.
Each panelist provided remarks, including David Etzwiler, CEO of the Siemens Foundation. He emphasized the importance of effective messaging about CTE, noting that “far too few youth choose high-quality CTE programs in high school, even though they lead to strong postsecondary outcomes. While that choice might be because of a personal preference, it’s often because of a stigma that exists around CTE and the careers it supports.”
Dr. Lynne Gilli, the Assistant State Superintendent, Division of Career and College Readiness at the Maryland State Department of Education shared details about the focus groups conducted in Maryland as part of their involvement in this work. She shared that students and parents often knew about specific programs, but that they didn’t always connect those programs to the term “CTE.” Additionally, she noted that parents and students were excited to learn about how CTE programs deliver project-based, problem-solving curriculum and hands-on experiences.
Lauren Fillebrown, a senior at Penn State University shared her experiences as a CTE student and how it helped her discover her purpose in both her education and career, opened up opportunities for her to pursue a variety of internships and allowed her to meet teachers, coaches and mentors who invested in her. She noted how this network of people is dedicated to her growth and helped her to believe that she can impact the world.
Advance CTE is thankful to the CTE caucus and our panelists for sharing the importance of communicating effectively about CTE.
Kathryn Zekus, Katie Fitzgerald, Advance CTE