New Indicators of High School Career/Technical Education Coursetaking: Class of 2005 (NCES 2009-038)
Career/technical education (CTE) can serve many purposes for high school students, including helping them explore career options, remain engaged in school, gain skills that are broadly useful in the labor market, gain job-specific skills for direct labor market entry, and prepare for further study in postsecondary education. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has examined public high school students’ participation in CTE in reports that look at coursetaking from the 1980s through 2005 (Levesque et al. 2008; Levesque 2003; Levesque et al. 2000; Tuma 1996). These reports classify CTE into three curriculum areas: family and consumer sciences education, general labor market preparation, and occupational education, with occupational education being divided into a number of occupational areas (e.g., business services, computer technology, and construction).1 These reports define occupational concentrators as students who earn at least 3 credits within one occupational area. The most recent of these reports found, for example, that 97 percent of all public high school graduates in 2005 earned credits in CTE, with 21 percent concentrating in an occupational area (Levesque et al. 2008).