This month, students, educators, stakeholder groups, and even regulators will highlight what works in career and technical education (CTE).
The U.S. Department of Education has joined the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) to celebrate February as National CTE Month. Each organization has assembled a month-long schedule of activities that focus on outstanding programs. ED also will draw attention to the need to transform secondary and postsecondary programs that are no longer relevant in today’s marketplace.
The 2013 celebration marks a pivotal moment for CTE. This year, we all have a chance to work together to promote an increase in rigor and relevance and to support replication of programs that work. As a nation, we cannot continue to allow some youth and adults to be stuck in outdated vocational courses that do not prepare students for in-demand careers.
Which path the nation takes will be determined during the Fiscal Year 2013 budget process and whether Congress takes up reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act, which provides federal support for secondary and 2-year postsecondary programs.
Last spring, the Obama Administration released a blueprint for transforming CTE. Through a $1 billion investment in CTE and an additional $1 billion career academies initiative, the Obama Administration’s 2013 budget proposes to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Act and support CTE in four key areas:
- Alignment: Ensuring that the skills taught in CTE programs reflect the actual needs of the labor market so that CTE students acquire the 21st century skills necessary for in-demand occupations within high-growth industry sectors.
- Collaboration: Incentivizing secondary schools, institutions of higher education, employers, and industry partners to work together to ensure that all CTE programs offer students high-quality learning opportunities.
- Accountability: Requiring CTE programs to show, through common definitions and related performance measures, that they are improving academic outcomes and enabling students to build technical and job skills.
- Innovation: Promoting systemic reform of state-level policies to support effective CTE implementation and innovation at the local level.
This month, we will join ACTE and several of their “CTE Works” events, as well as initiate additional conversations about the need for more high quality career training programs that lead to industry recognized credentials, and prepare students for postsecondary education and careers. We encourage you to check back often for upcoming events and activities.
Follow the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #CTEMonth, and share photos of students and teachers in action to illustrate great CTE programs on Twitter and Instagram.
John White is deputy assistant secretary for rural outreach at the U.S. Department of Education