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Career and Technical Education

Over the last decade and a half, American education reform has focused on improving traditional academic curricula, with performance measured by standardized exams and related modes of accountability for schools, teachers and students.   That reform model has generated mixed results, and some have criticized the limitations of  what seems to be a “one size fits all” approach to educational excellence. Furthermore, the emergence of the global knowledge economy has placed new and challenging demands on American education. In order to prepare American students for 21st century jobs in this knowledge economy, and to deepen their engagement in the rigorous classwork that is called for, an increasing number of educators argue, the emergence of high-quality Career and Technical Education is an important development.

This is no easy task. We must overcome the legacy of past vocational education programs, which too often tracked students from working families and students of color into low-wage, unskilled jobs bereft of opportunities for economic and social improvement. In this context, CTE must bring forward and update the most successful aspects of the vocational education tradition.

The evidence is strong that quality CTE can provide powerful motivation for students to graduate from high school and go on to post-secondary education. Across America, only 3 in every 4 students graduate high school on time, in four years. The numbers are significantly better, however, for students with a concentration in Career and Technical Education: 9 in every 10 graduate on time. Of students who graduate high school with a Career and Technical concentration, 7 in every 10 go on to enroll in post-secondary education. After  two years, 4 in every 5 of these students have either completed their course of study and earned a certificate, or remain  enrolled in a program. [1]CTE can create a tangible connection to a desirable future, with meaningful work and good paying jobs. It transforms the classroom into an arena of accomplishment.  Its focus on real world skills and successes can instill in students a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work that carries over to their studies. For students living in poverty and/or at risk for dropping out, CTE can provide a pathway to finishing one’s education, with all that means for their futures. Educators in all the states recognize the need to place increased emphasis on the sort of contextual education represented by the CTE approach.

 
  • CTE 2014: Career Training for the Knowledge Economy

    This conference, sponsored by the New York Citywide CTE Advisory Council, the United Federation of Teachers, and the NYC Department of Education, with support from the CTE Technical Assistance Center of New York State, the American Federation of Teachers, the Albert Shanker Institute, and the Association for Career and Technical Education. was a special addition to the annual professional development day for New York City CTE teachers.

  • Fulfilling The Promise Of a Quality Education for All: 21st Century Career & Technical Education

    This New York City conference (co-sponsored with the UFT) was designed to allow participants to share their expertise in CTE policy, practice, and research, as well as to deepen their understanding of how quality CTE can serve to expand the educational and career horizons of all students.

  • The 2018 Elections: What Do They Mean for American Education?

    November 27, 2018

    What are the implications of the results of the 2018 election for American education, in Washington D.C,. in state capitols and in the nation’s schools and classrooms? From a variety of perspectives ranging from political actor to scholar, our panelists will address this question. Speakers: Domingo Morel assistant professor, political science, Rutgers University; visiting scholar, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, Brown University; Michael Petrilli, president, Thomas B. Fordham Institute; research fellow, Stanford University's Hoover Institution; executive editor, Education Next; distinguished senior fellow, Education Commission of the States; Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers and Albert Shanker Institute. Moderator: Michelle Ringuette, assistant to the president for labor, government & political affairs, American Federation of Teachers. Watch the video.
  • The Challenge for Business and Society Book Discussion and Reception with Stanley Litow

    October 2, 2018

    October 2, 2018, 4:30 to 6:30 pm, 555 New Jersey Ave, NW, Washington, D.C. Discussant: Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teacher and the Albert Shanker Institute. More information and Registration.
  • Quality Teaching: Individual and Social Approaches

    December 7, 2015

    This two-panel conversation focused on theresults of the annual “PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes toward the Public Schools,” and their implications for policy and practice, taking on the question of how government, schools of education, school districts and schools can promote, nurture and support quality teaching. Watch the video.

  • Florida Education Reform Under Jeb Bush: Miracle or Mirage?

    October 14, 2015

    The panelists examined the Florida reforms and their educational impact from a variety of perspectives—from the educational frontline in classrooms and schools to the overview of system analysts.. Watch the video.

  • Opportunities to Learn: Equity in American Education- Looking Backward, Looking Forward

    April 8, 2015

    In an era of growing racial and class segregation in American education, what must be done to provide every student with a genuine opportunity to learn? April 8, noon-2:00.

  • Fulfilling The Promise Of a Quality Education for All: 21st Century Career & Technical Education

    October 10, 2013

    This New York City conference (co-sponsored with the UFT) was designed to allow participants to share their expertise in CTE policy, practice, and research, as well as to deepen their understanding of how quality CTE can serve to expand the educational and career horizons of all students. Participants also considered a statement of recommendations on what needs to be done to develop and support quality CTE programs in U.S. education.

  • Experts Debate Role of Career and Technical Education

    February 17, 2010

    Education reform will fail a vast number of U.S. students unless the role of career and technical education (CTE, formerly called vocational education) is reconsidered, recast and placed in the mainstream of K-12 curriculum design. These were some of the conclusions of a small group of top federal and state policymakers, educators, business and labor leaders, practitioners, researchers and other workforce experts who took part in an informal conversation on Feb. 17, hosted by AFT president Randi Weingarten and sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute.

  • "Modernizing Career and Technical Education (CTE), High School's Neglected Resource for Comprehensive Post-Secondary Preparation."

    February 10, 2010

    In this February, 2010 off-the-record Conversation, top federal and state policymakers, educators, business and labor leaders, practitioners, researchers and other experts with an interest in Career and Technical Education (CTE), including Education Secretary Arne Duncan and American Federation of Teachers and Shanker Institute President Randi Weingarten discussed the achievements and challenges facing high quality CTE. Following the Conversation, one of several sponsored by the Institute on key education topics, the Institute published a Compendium of the issues and questions addressed by the group.

  • Unions and Workforce Development (a discussion with John Monks)

    January 4, 2003

    This is the transcript of a 2003 luncheon discussion on the revitalization of the labor movement with John Monks, general secretary of Britain's Trades Union Congress (TUC).

  • Seminar on Workforce Development

    May 12, 2001

    Research has shown that most corporations would be better off if they stopped raiding one another for superstar staff and concentrated on identifying and developing the talents of their current workforce. For their part, unions have a vested interest in helping members increase both the value and the quality of their work. This discussion explored the convergence of these interests.

  • Eugenia Kemble Research Grants

    In honor of its founding executive director, the Albert Shanker Institute announces the creation of the “Eugenia Kemble Research Grants Program.” Tax-deductible donations to this program are welcome. Please make donations through PayPal or by check to the Albert Shanker Institute (555 New Jersey Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20001). More information. Watch the Memorial Service.

  • Let’s Talk Foundations: Oral Language Development I

    Oral language—listening and talking—is the primary means by which young children learn about and interact with the world. This training module for early childhood educators offers simple but powerful ideas to support young children build the skills, knowledge, vocabulary, and attitudes that can help prepare them for future academic learning across the content areas. Here, we offer excerpted materials for a workshop on supporting English language learners.

  • Let’s Talk PD: Early Mathematics Development

    This training module for early childhood educators provides an overview of the research and standards on age-appropriate mathematics development, including practical takeaway materials to help assist in instructional. The most important early childhood mathematical foundations are addressed, including numerical sense and problem solving, building math vocabulary, using math manipulatives, and curriculum integration. The materials may be presented as a very intensive one-day session or broken into separate workshops. This excerpt contains materials for a workshop on curriculum integration.

  • Let’s Talk PD: Early Science Development

    This module for early childhood educators provides research-based information on early science development in the three key areas of physical science, life science, and earth science, along with applied information for improving instruction in each area. These materials can be implemented as an intensive, day-long professional development seminar or broken up into a series of workshops. This excerpt contains materials for a workshop on life science.

  • CTE Models

    Advocates of  the high quality CTE approach argue that it eschews the ‘one size fits all’ approach to education, without sacrificing rigor. It takes multiple approaches, usually presented under the rubric of  ’Programs of Study’ (some prefer ‘career pathways’).

  • Common Career Technical Core and the Common Core

    The common Career Technical Core (CCTE) is a set of high quality benchmarks standards for CTE. It is a state-led initiative. CCTE contains ‘end-of-study’ standards for all 16 Career Clusters and their 79 Career Pathways.

  • College and Career Readiness

    How do schools prepare students to be both college and career ready? The answer often has focused on improving classroom achievement, but that is only one aspect of getting students ready for post secondary school, work, or some combination of these.

  • Why We Need New Workplace Partnerships for Skills Development

    This report, signed by a diverse group of labor, business and policy experts, calls for far-reaching changes in the way our country manages its work-force skills and training efforts.