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adult students in a classroom

National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education (NCICTE)

Ensuring that U.S. programs keep pace with the needs of students and employers

Career and technical education (CTE) offers students a context for the real-world application of core academics. Well-designed programs integrate academic and technical instruction in a sequenced progression of courses to prepare high school students to seamlessly transition into advanced postsecondary education or employment. Postsecondary CTE programs equip adults with advanced skills to help them find employment or advance in their careers.

To ensure that America’s CTE programs keep pace with the needs of students and employers, the U.S. Department of Education created the National Center for Innovation in Career and Technical Education (NCICTE). Center researchers perform scientifically based research and evaluation to expand the understanding, increase the effectiveness, and improve the delivery of CTE instruction. Center work is directed toward exploring the contribution that CTE can make to raising student engagement and achievement and improving student transitions from secondary to postsecondary education and work.

RTI was the prime contractor in charge of NCICTE from 2012 until 2017.

Providing Scientific Leadership and Fostering Collaboration to Support Policy and Practice

In the years we managed NCICTE, the Center launched nearly two dozen studies on topics such as state strategies for financing CTE, connections between state industry certifications and educational and employment outcomes, competency-based education, and alternative credentials for individuals in the correctional system.

Our signature emphasis on collaboration and scientific rigor helped NCICTE contribute to the understanding of quality career and technical education nationwide. The six other organizations that served as subcontractors strengthen NCICTE’s expertise in federal CTE policy and state and local practice.

Delivering Actionable Insights and Training to Improve CTE Programs across the United States

NCICTE studies have supported states in organizing and financing CTE programs and informed the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. Among our accomplishments is a profile of the postsecondary outcomes of CTE students from the high school class of 2004. Using nationally representative data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, this report analyzed the longitudinal experiences of high school graduates eight years after they completed high school. Our findings help educators assess the association between students’ participation in CTE and their subsequent postsecondary enrollment and labor market success.