Why CTE Is So Important for Today’s Students

One of the best investments in any high school is in career and technical education (CTE) programs. Such pathways pay dividends for many critical factors, such as graduation rate and academic success. But parents and students who already expect good grades and a high school diploma might be surprised to learn that there are other reasons that CTE is important for today’s students.

Career Exploration

CTE provides all students with scaffolded levels of participation in various career clusters. The intent of introductory-level CTE courses is specifically for career exposure. Students can move through a pathway to technical-level courses, or they may find that they don’t enjoy a certain career field and move to other CTE opportunities. It becomes a balance of exploration and mastery, depending on the student’s interest.

Schools can support students in these pathways by clearly communicating course progressions.

Course-planning tools, like the ones that Choices360 provides, ensure that students have the knowledge that they need to navigate their enrollment and course planning from year to year. They may wonder: “What prereqs do I need? What is the next course in this pathway?” Software that helps them navigate these questions is an invaluable tool for students and schools.

What about College?

CTE programs tend to impact people’s perspectives about post-secondary education. Parents need to be educated on the true cost of every pathway. Students may hear their parents go from saying, “College is the only option,” to, “Let’s consider the pros and cons of all these options.” Parents might not realize how CTE pathways can articulate credit with technical schools to reduce the cost of a technical certificate. It might not ultimately be the route that a student chooses, but knowing this information enables them to make better decisions.

Schools can support students by educating them about the impact of their post-secondary choices.

Choices360 provides the ability to research careers and find the average annual wage and the route that it takes to get there, including the cost. When students know the specifics about how the post-secondary world works—with grants, loans, scholarships, FAFSA, etc.—they can then choose careers that align with the cost of the education.

Knowing What Is Valuable

In many career pathways, certifications can be more important than degrees, and some of these certifications are obtainable in high school. Of course, every career field is different, but certain areas, especially in programming and networking, offer opportunities for high school students to obtain industry-recognized credentials before graduation. Comptia is one example. While it is a rigorous test to pass, it is not uncommon for high school students to obtain this credential and go directly to work after graduation at a high-wage job.

Schools can support students by removing barriers to students obtaining credentials.

Teachers who know about these opportunities also know that there are obstacles to student success. Sometimes, it is the cost of the credential test; other times, it is the prerequisite knowledge that students need to be successful. By helping students enroll in the correct course sequences, schools can increase the rate of success that students have for these impactful certification tests.

Many graduates will refer to CTE classes as launch points for their careers or places where they learned skills that indirectly lead to their current jobs. Such classes are meaningful and important for students. As they transition out of high school CTE programs, they should feel confident that each pathway has a post-secondary support system embedded in it. Every CTE pathway should have a clear plan for what a student can do in “year 13” after graduation, but that comes down to how well schools and teachers educate their students about these options.

These reasons clearly define why CTE is important for today’s students. Sharing knowledge about opportunities and how to take advantage of those opportunities is a critical role that schools must play for the post-secondary success of students.

Here at XAP, we believe that exploration lays the foundation for planning. That’s why we help school and district counseling leaders implement equitable programs and strategies to ensure that students graduate high school not only with a diploma but also with a plan.

To see how we can help you better support your students and drive state, district, and school initiatives with greater ease, transparency, and data, feel free to contact our specialists today!

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