Report: Significant growth in high school CTE courses for college-credit
DES MOINES -- More secondary career and technical education programs across the state now include college-credit courses that give high school students a jump start on industry credentials and college degrees, according to a report released by the Iowa Department of Education.
Once considered as an alternative pathway for students who planned to directly enter the workforce after high school graduation, today’s career and technical education (CTE) consists of programs that integrate technical, academic, and employability skills in a hands-on environment aligning with regional economic demands.
“The distinction between ‘CTE’ students and ‘academic’ students is no longer useful or accurate,” said Jeremy Varner, administrator of the Division of Community College and Workforce Preparation at the Iowa Department of Education.
“These stereotypes are crumbling. Through statewide redesign efforts, today’s CTE programs offer students more choices with clear career pathways aligned to regional workforce needs. CTE offers strong career options for all students, whether they are seeking career training or a college degree.”
The Condition of Career and Technical Education report represents the first longitudinal statewide overview on the trends in secondary CTE courses, programs, student characteristics, and instructors. Additionally, the report identifies three emerging areas of focus addressed in House File 2392 (HF2392) which was signed into law in 2016 to redesign CTE policy in Iowa. Those areas include integration with career and technical student organizations (CTSOs), holistic career guidance, and development of regional centers to provide equitable access to capital-intensive, high-quality CTE programs.
This work to provide students with high-quality CTE programs is in line with the state’s Future Ready Iowa initiative, which focuses on making Iowa’s talent pipeline a more skilled workforce. Future Ready Iowa’s goal is for 70 percent of Iowans in the workplace to have education or training beyond high school by 2025. Approximately 58 percent of working-age Iowans currently hold such credentials, based on data in the Future Ready Iowa Metrics that Matter report.
Additional findings from the report include:
- While overall secondary CTE enrollment increased 4.2 percent between academic years (AY) 2013 and 2017, enrollment in college-credit contracted CTE courses increased 46.2 percent.
- The growth in college-credit contracted courses did not hinder growth of secondary CTE courses, which provide students with the necessary foundational skills that feed into higher-level coursework.
- The majority of career academy programs offered in AY2017 were in the high-demand fields of applied science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing and health sciences.
- Smaller school districts had higher secondary CTE participation rates than larger districts, while larger school districts had higher college-credit contracted CTE participation rates.
- There was little difference in the average number of CTE courses taken by students who were eligible for free or reduced-price school meals and those who were not.
- Participation rates over the past five years for males and females remained steady with higher rates for males on average (54.9 percent) than females (45.1 percent).
- The percent of minority students has increased from 17 percent of all secondary CTE students in AY2013 to 20 percent in AY2017.
The information in this report will help guide the work of the state’s 15 CTE regional planning partnerships that were formed, as outlined in HF2392, to provide an effective, efficient, and economical means of delivering high-quality secondary CTE programs across the state. These partnerships include representation from the private sector, area education agencies, community colleges, and school districts.