Participation in career and technical education (CTE) programs is growing statewide. During the 2011-2012 school year, 63 percent (or 181,418) of Missouri high school students participated in at least one CTE program. This is a 3 percent increase over the previous year.
CTE programs combine academics and occupational skills training, allowing students to learn more about possible career paths in agriculture, business, health sciences, family consumer sciences, skilled technical sciences, and marketing and cooperative education.
"Career and technical education is becoming all the more important in preparation for college or a career," said Chris L. Nicastro, Missouri commissioner of education. "In today's globally competitive world, it's essential for students to have the necessary skills to succeed when they enter the workplace."
College- and career-readiness is one of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's primary goals for its Top 10 by 20 initiative, which calls for Missouri to rank in the top 10 performing states by the year 2020.
According to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Vocational and Adult Education, almost all high school students nationwide take at least one CTE course, and one in four students take three or more courses in a single program area. Additionally, one-third of college students are involved in CTE programs, and as many as 40 million adults engage in short-term postsecondary occupational training.
Missouri has a number of CTE programs available for students. Project Lead the Way provides rigorous and innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum in high schools. Missouri Connections is a free, online resource, which allows students to explore potential careers and helps guide them through their career planning process. And Pathways to Prosperity is a national education initiative designed to build career pathway systems for high-school-aged students. Missouri is one of six states selected by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Jobs for the Future to participate in the Pathways to Prosperity Network.
Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) provide a critical opportunity for students in high schools and career technical centers throughout the state. These organizations provide additional opportunities for students outside of the classroom to develop and refine the skills they will need after graduation. Over 74,000 students participated in 10 different Missouri CTSOs during the 2011-2012 school year.
"Career and technical student organizations have become increasingly popular and provide a more fun and competitive platform for developing college and career-ready skills," said Dennis Harden, career education coordinator for the Department. "The majority of our CTSOs rank within the top 10 in membership nationally, which reinforces the fact that Missouri students are learning these important life-long skills for success."
February is Career and Technical Education Month.
For more information about CTE in Missouri, visit http://dese.mo.gov/college-career-readiness/career-education. Learn more about CTE on a national level by visiting the Association for Career and Technical Education's website, acteonline.org.