Center on Reinventing Public Education

Rethinking Career and Technical Education

The Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) is one of the nation’s leading sources for transformative, evidence-based ideas to improve education. To ensure all students are prepared for a rapidly changing future, rigorous research and policy analysis is put forward to help educators, policymakers, civic and community leaders, parents, and students themselves reimagine education systems and structures.

CRPE is a nonpartisan research center open to all possible solutions to measurably improve outcomes for all students. They work in the creative center across ideological lines to achieve strong, equitable schooling at scale, empower families, and inform and encourage effective governance.

What challenge is this solution working to address?

As the economy rapidly shifts toward automation, there is growing consensus that while new jobs will be created, change is the new normal. Youth need training in soft skills alongside preparation for lifetime learning. Systemic change, not minor improvements, will be necessary.

States, districts, and schools are adjusting to the aspirations of “new CTE”—as many are calling this rethinking of career and technical education—and searching for examples of what this can look like. CRPE has identified 32 programs around the country that represent the variety of efforts being used to reinvent CTE. CRPE has gone deeper on a handful in the form of case studies and videos.

Solution Overview

In CRPE’s sample, they found encouraging examples of educators breaking down institutional barriers to expand CTE. Schools are breaking down the boundaries between school and community by partnering closely with industry, trade unions, and four-year institutions. And schools have formed partnerships with one another to open institutions that focus on career training, which are then paid for through a share of student enrollment. Programs are dismantling tracking by making sure students are in control; students select a pathway only after taking exploratory coursework and working with a counselor, with the option to change programs.

But they also identified trends that must be addressed for CTE to fulfill its promise. Educators and policy leaders must push harder to:

  1. Develop systematic training for in-demand careers.
  2. Provide accessible information about employment prospects to guide student choice.
  3. Create consistent work-based learning opportunities.
  4. Improve the quality of basic education.
  5. Improve access to high-quality schools and programs.
  6. Identify outcomes and student demographics, especially for part-time programs.
  7. Leverage opportunities from post-secondary and business partnerships.

This solution is agile because…

The study found examples of educators across the country delivering on the aspirations of new CTE. Some leverage district or state policy designed to enable high-quality CTE, while others are entrepreneurs operating on the margins of policy. Whichever the case, both point to the system-level changes that will be needed to sustain new CTE.

Kansas Can School Redesign Project