Career and Technical Education: Current Policy, Prominent Programs, and Evidence (MDRC)
Organizational Author(s): MDRC
This paper by MRDC reviews the available evidence supporting various types of career and technical education; programs, touching on both the amount of evidence available in each area and its level of rigor.
This paper begins with an overview of the issues in the education system and the labor market that led to the current revival of CTE: It argues that the skills today’s employers need are not the ones schools are providing adequately. This section is followed by one describing how various policies have fostered the growth of CTE. The third section of the paper provides detail on the major types of programs and their various components. Specifically, the paper defines what is meant by CTE instruction and training, career pathways, apprenticeships, and career-readiness skills. The evidence section that follows begins by discussing the value of various types of evidence. It then provides a literature review of the available evidence to support each of the program types detailed in the third section, touching on both the amount of evidence available in each area and its level of rigor.
The paper concludes by suggesting that while CTE instruction could bolster students’ economic mobility by helping them gain postsecondary credentials and obtain higher-paying jobs, there are challenges involved in turning that promise into reality. Investments in data and evidence-based practices can give CTE a better chance at success