The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of State CTE Standards

In late 2012, Advance CTE (as NASDCTEc) commissioned an alignment study, the first-of-its-kind analysis comparing each state’s secondary and postsecondary Career Technical Education (CTE) standards to a set of common benchmarks, the Common Career Technical Core (CCTC). To accomplish this, it was essential to gather the existing body of knowledge around state CTE standards. This included collecting the actual state CTE secondary and postsecondary standards, as well as supporting policies, procedures, legislation and practices around how states develop, adopt and implement standards.

Some of the key findings include:

  • The majority of states have state-approved secondary CTE standards, while only 13 states and two territories have state-approved postsecondary standards. Only two states and one territory have CTE standards that are fully aligned between secondary and postsecondary systems.
  • The majority of states have the authority to adopt both secondary and postsecondary CTE standards, although most only exercise this authority at the secondary level.
  • The monitoring required by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 drives how states review secondary CTE programs, including determining the fidelity with which standards are implemented locally, while accreditation is the major driver of postsecondary CTE program evaluation and monitoring.
  • Nearly all states have programs of study (sequences of courses across the secondary and postsecondary levels), even though few have statewide postsecondary standards to which these programs of study are aligned.
  • There is a significant mismatch between states’ current CTE standards and the CCTC, largely explained by the level of state standards (i.e., secondary course-level) and the level of the CCTC (i.e., end of program-of-study level).
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Published: 
October 2013
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The Learning that Works Resource Center was developed through the New Skills for Youth initiative, a partnership of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Advance CTE and the Education Strategy Group, generously funded by JPMorgan Chase & Co