CTE Coalition Calls for Transformation of Career Pathways

Eight organizations recently issued a call for the transformation of Career and Technical Education (CTE), to coordinate efforts between K-12, higher education and the business world to engage in providing meaningful career pathways for learners.

"Putting Learner Success First: A Shared Vision for the Future of CTE" arose from Advance CTE, the Association for Career and Technical Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges, the National Governors Association, the National Skills Coalition, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

The last major vision statement issued collectively by the CTE field, "Reflect, Transform, Lead," was six years ago. It focused heavily on the need to develop learning frameworks and policies to support career and tech ed. The new vision statement zeroes in on the students themselves, and outlines what policymakers, educators and industry must do to deliver quality programs for them.

Putting Learner Success First is organized around five principles, with action steps outlined here.

  • CTE programs are held to the highest standards of excellence. Despite good progress improving the quality of CTE programming, poor-quality programs persist in too many places, the groups say. To "eradicate the negative stereotypes and realities" of CTE programs, those shaping the programs must have "an unwavering commitment" to high standards of quality.
  • Learners are empowered to choose a meaningful education and career. Here the authors declare the need for a strong, thorough career-advising system for students. It must start early and extend through high school, and let all students—not just those in CTE programs—explore a wide range of goals and interests, the statement says. That system must also provide real-world work/learning experiences for those students.
  • Learning is personalized and flexible. The authors envision a fusion of academics with CTE that takes place in and outside of classrooms. Creating competency-based systems to take a CTE student from high school into higher education—rather than stumbling over the accumulation of Carnegie units—is important to accomplishing this goal.
  • Learning is facilitated by experts. The eight groups call for deep changes in thinking about who should teach career-tech courses. Teacher certification must be updated to include requirements that teachers can integrate academic and career skills, and facilitate certification of instructors from industry.
  • Systems work together to put learner success first. K-12 and higher education must be able to work well with workforce development and industry to ensure quality, seamless programs. That authors call for states to outline ways to change policy and practice and adopt career-readiness indicators in their accountability systems.