New Research from Advance CTE Indicates Families in Career Technical Education More Satisfied with Education, Prepared for College


New Research from Advance CTE Indicates Families in Career Technical Education More Satisfied with Education, Prepared for College


(SILVER SPRING, MD – April 28, 2021) Today, Advance CTE released findings from a national survey of over 2,000 middle and high school families on effective messages and messengers for recruiting learners to participate in Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. Communicating Career Technical Education: Learner-centered Messages for Effective Program Recruitment, released with support from the Siemens Foundation, is an update to research conducted in 2017 with new message testing and a focus on exploring equity considerations through an oversampling of Black and Latinx families and families with low income. 

As national policy conversations focus on investing in learners and workers and breaking silos between systems of learning and work, CTE is more important than ever. While meaningful progress has been made in raising both the awareness and quality of CTE programs, communications about CTE must address a lack of knowledge about programs, lingering stigmas and equity barriers that have impeded enrollment efforts. In doing so, CTE can meet a shared vision of serving as the most effective path for learners to skillfully navigate their own journey to college and career success. 

Advance CTE is one of the only national organizations conducting message testing to better communicate with families about their educational aspirations and opportunities. 

Communicating Career Technical Education reaffirms previous findings about the value and benefits of CTE that most resonate with families while also confirming their efficacy across race, ethnicity and income. The findings also illuminated important equity considerations on how CTE is communicated and its potential to close gaps in college preparation for learners of color and learners experiencing low income. 

Key Findings 
  • Families are most attracted to the real-world benefits of CTE and finding a career their learner is passionate about. Over 60 percent of families chose “Preparing for the Real World” as the most effective message for CTE enrollment. Experiences attached to CTE, in particular opportunities for career exploration and gaining skills, were chosen by families in and outside of CTE as top aspects of their education. 
  • Families participating in CTE are more satisfied (88 percent) with all aspects of their education compared to parents not participating (75 percent), including class and teacher quality and particularly opportunities to explore careers and gain real-world skills. Parents/guardians with learners in CTE programs are twice as likely to be ‘very satisfied’ (61 percent) with their education experience compared to those not participating in CTE (31 percent). 
  • Learners in CTE have more opportunities to prepare for postsecondary education and are more confident about completing a degree. College is the goal for more than 75 percent of learners both in and outside of CTE immediately following high school. Historically marginalized populations in CTE in particular showed strong gains in plans for completing a two or four-year degree, with Latinx and families with low income experiencing 24 and13 percent respective increase in confidence over families not in CTE. 
  • Sources closest to learners, in particular teachers and school counselors, continue to be top sources for families to learn more about CTE. Advance CTE launched a career advising curriculum in 2019 to address stigmas and knowledge gaps among school counselors about CTE. 
“We know CTE works. The research released today validates that CTE has what learners are looking for – a pathway built on their interests that leads to success in college and a career,” said Kimberly Green, Executive Director for Advance CTE. “With improved messaging that is responsive to families, we can increase equitable access and success in CTE, which is essential to a diverse, skilled workforce and building pathways to economic mobility and prosperity.”
“Building a better future for the next generation workforce and our communities must include closing opportunity gaps in education now,” said David Etzwiler, CEO and Board Member of the Siemens Foundation. “That means high-quality CTE programs accessible to and supportive of students of color regardless of their family’s income or zip code. But students and families must first know about these opportunities and the value CTE offers their learners for finding passion in their work and preparing them for a limitless future. We are proud to partner with Advance CTE in this important work.” 
For more information, visit Advance CTE’s website for the full report, a fact sheet with key findings and statistics, and additional resources for research application. 
Advance CTE is the longest-standing national non-profit that represents State Directors and state leaders responsible for secondary, postsecondary and adult Career Technical Education (CTE) across all 50 states and U.S. territories. Established in 1920, Advance CTE supports visionary state leadership, cultivates best practices and speaks with a collective voice to advance high-quality CTE policies, programs and pathways that ensure career success for each learner.
The Siemens Foundation has invested more than $130 million in the United States to advance workforce development and education initiatives in science, technology, engineering and math. Our mission is inspired by the culture of innovation, research and continuous learning that is the hallmark of Siemens’ companies. The Foundation is committed to economic, social and racial justice for all in the United States, and together the programs at the Siemens Foundation are narrowing the opportunity gap for young people in the U.S. and igniting and sustaining today’s STEM workforce and tomorrow’s scientists and engineers. 


Media Contact:

Stacy Whitehouse, [email protected]

Senior Associate, Communications and State Engagement