The State of Career Technical Education: Improving Data Quality and Effectiveness

A strong, well-aligned data system allows State CTE Directors and other state leaders to answer critical questions about the quality of their CTE programs and whether learners are participating and succeeding equitably. But today's state data systems are not meeting the need for data-informed decision making. Eighty-six percent of State CTE Directors believe improving and enhancing their CTE data systems is a priority, but only 45 percent say they have the information they need to assist in making decisions about CTE program quality and other initiatives at both the secondary and postsecondary levels. How can states improve the quality of their data systems so they can make more effective use of their data? 

This report draws on a national survey of State Directors to answer these critical questions and more. The report finds that: 

  1. States are hesitant to use their data for high-stakes decisionmaking

  2. CTE data systems are not sufficiently aligned across the secondary, postsecondary and workforce sectors

  3. Many states rely on self-reported measures of career readiness and do not often use rigorous validation processes

This report comes at an opportune time.The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) gives states an opportunity to improve their data systems and make more data-informed decisions. With Perkins V implementation on the horizon, what can states do to improve the quality and effective use of their data?

The State of CTE report was developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. This resource was developed in partnership with the Workforce Data Quality Campaign, a project of the National Skills Coalition, and the Data Quality Campaign.