Career and technical education

What are the trends in career and technical education in public high schools?


From 1990 to 2009, the average number of career and technical education (CTE) credits earned by U.S. public high school graduates declined, from 4.2 to 3.6, while the average number of credits earned in other subject areas increased. Coursetaking in occupational areas, such as agriculture and natural resources or business, dropped from 2.7 to 2.5 credits. In nonoccupational areas (i.e., general labor market preparation and consumer and family studies), CTE coursetaking dropped from 1.5 to 1.1 credits. In contrast, average credits earned in core academic fields (i.e., English, mathematics, science, and social studies) rose between 1990 and 2009.

The percentage of graduates who earned credit in any occupational CTE area declined from 88 percent in 1990 to 85 percent in 2009. However, within occupational CTE, the direction and magnitude of change differed by specific occupational area. Occupational areas with declining participation were business, manufacturing, computer and information sciences, engineering technologies, and repair and transportation, with business being the area of largest decline. Occupational areas with increasing participation were communications and design, health care, public services, and consumer and culinary services, with communications and design being the area of largest increase.

Change in the percentage of public high school graduates earning credits in each occupational area from 1990 to 2009

The data in this figure can be found in the surrounding paragraphs

*Significantly different (p < .05) from zero.
NOTE: Tabular data for percentages and their standard errors are available in tables H126 and SH126, at
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). DATA POINT: Trends in CTE Coursetaking (NCES 2014-901).

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