Alexandria, VA – State education leaders are calling for the complete integration of career and technical education programs into the middle and high school curricula as a means to offer all students a range of learning experiences that encompass academic, career and 21st century skills. The recommendation comes from a year-long study of the state of career technical education (CTE) in American education reform by state board of education members. The report, Learning to Work, Working to Learn, is being published by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE).

The traditional concept of vocational education with its emphasis on skill training and non-academic instruction-auto repair and cosmetology, for example-has evolved in recent years into a career-focused and academically demanding 21st century workforce preparation program now known as career technical education. This transformation offers educators significant opportunities to expand the breadth and depth of educational opportunities to students both in their K-12 learning and post-secondary careers.

“The modern day career technical education program is not your father’s vo-tech shop class,” explained Brenda Welburn, NASBE Executive Director. “We simply cannot make effective high school reforms without incorporating CTE into these improvement plans. CTE prepares students to succeed in the global workforce and offers those students most in danger of dropping out of high school with multiple educational and career opportunities.”

Among the other recommendations that will be distributed to national, state, and local education leaders is a focus on incorporating CTE coursework into existing state academic standards and to develop multiple assessments to measure skill and knowledge attainment. The report also suggests facilitating partnerships between industry leaders and schools, better state recruitment and compensation strategies for CTE instructors, and improving the transitions for students from high school to their post-secondary careers.

The panel’s work was supported through a generous contribution by Crossland Construction, one of the premier construction companies in the country based in Columbus, Kansas.

The full report and recommendations, Learning to Work, Working to Learn, is available for download below.