National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education

NCICTE educational website

The National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education conducts research to expand the understanding, increase the effectiveness, and improve the implementation of career and technical education. Its multimedia website is designed to effectively disseminate research and engage diverse stakeholders.

Client: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education


Announced in 2012, the U.S. Department of Education established a new national center to assess the ways in which high-quality career and technical education programs can contribute to secondary and postsecondary instruction. The National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education (NCICTE) will perform scientifically based research and evaluation, disseminate information, and conduct training to expand the understanding, increase the effectiveness, and improve the implementation of career and technical education (CTE).

Center Vision and Priorities


NCICTE conducts research to improve the design, delivery, and outcomes of CTE services offered at the secondary and postsecondary education levels. A central feature of NCICTE's research agenda involves exploring how the principles of CTE instruction, which include contextualized learning and the real-world application of core academics, can help raise student engagement and achievement while promoting the interdisciplinary, critical thinking skills required in the modern workplace. NCICTE promotes better alignment among secondary, postsecondary, and adult education sectors in order to make it easier for students to navigate multiple pathways to careers. NCICTE also seeks to demonstrate more effective strategies for enabling and scaling employer involvement so young people may experience deep, systematic interaction with adult professionals as part of their career development.

Research Areas

There are four research areas that NCICTE prioritizes:

  1. Programs of study (POS)/career pathways—identifying strategies to strengthen the alignment of CTE programs offered at the secondary and postsecondary education levels, and both education levels and the labor market. This includes strategies for improving college and career readiness training, anchoring POS within broader state career pathways efforts, and identifying current and future marketplace needs.
  2. Curriculum integration—conducting scientifically based research and evaluation to assess the efficacy of academic and CTE curriculum integration, and identifying approaches or models for improving instructional outcomes of students
  3. Technology-enabled learning—assessing the prevalence and impact of technology-enabled learning on CTE to inform the field and policy makers of the prevalence and impact of such approaches on the outcomes of students
  4. Professional development—exploring new, more effective, evidence-based approaches for training new CTE instructors to enter the field and succeed, and to support existing educators in improving their skills

Recent Center Activities

  • The NCICTE website launched in April 2013. In addition to offering news and providing access to NCICTE reports, the site features a training center that contains on-demand, web-based presentations that translate Center work into actionable information and a searchable database containing reports from the previous NRCCTE.
  • NCICTE is collecting original data on contemporary educational issues, such as the outcomes of student participation in work-based learning and the use of multiple pathways as a secondary instructional strategy. Researchers also are analyzing federal databases maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics and collaborating with states to access secondary and postsecondary CTE data contained within statewide longitudinal data systems.
  • Studies are underway to assess how states are promoting alignment between secondary and postsecondary educators, financing career and technical education programs, awarding non-credit workforce education and industry-recognized certifications, and improving linkages between educational programming and the workplace.
  • NCICTE is disseminating information using social media through Twitter (@NCICTE) and LinkedIn. Researchers also are presenting at national meetings of career and technical education stakeholders, including the Association for Career & Technical Education and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium.

Center Team and Contacts

NCICTE consists of a team of diverse and experienced organizations, including RTI, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career, FHI 360, Laurium Evaluation Group, Coverent, Workforce Enterprise Systems, Mercury Labs, and Windwalker Corporation.