In accordance with federal law (the Carl D. Perkins Act of 2006), NCES defines career and technical education (CTE) as courses (at the high school level) and programs (at the postsecondary subbaccalaureate level) that focus on the skills and knowledge required for specific jobs or fields of work. The occupational fields included in this definition are: agriculture and natural resources; business support, management, and finance; communications and design; computer and information sciences; construction; consumer services; education; engineering, architecture, and science technologies; health sciences; manufacturing; marketing; public, legal, social, and protective services; repair; and transportation. At the high school level, CTE is sometimes expanded beyond "occupational education" to also include family and consumer sciences education and courses that provide general labor market skills. A crosswalk provides an overview of how these CTE fields are typically classified at each education level, and how they relate to the Career Clusters
CTE Statistics is the NCES reporting system for national information on career and technical education (CTE) and workforce preparation. The program uses a derived data system—compiling information from a variety of existing federal data collections—to provide a comprehensive national picture of the current status of and recent trends in CTE. Information is provided on CTE participation and CTE staff in public high schools, the education and work outcomes of public high school graduates, and on CTE participation, outcomes, and providers at the postsecondary level. Information is also available on adults' occupational certifications and licenses, and information on adults' skills will also be added at a later date. (See the PIAAC website for existing information on adult skills.)
States and localities typically do not fund CTE using a separate “CTE” line item. Instead, they have line-items for staff, facilities, etcetera, with CTE incorporated within those categories. Thus, the CTE Statistics program does not have CTE funding information. At the national level, funding for CTE programs in public high schools and postsecondary institutions is provided through the Carl D. Perkins Act. The Digest of Education Statistics provides national-level information on that funding source. State-level information on Perkins allocations is available from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.
NCES classifies postsecondary institutions based on their level (less-than-2-year, 2-year, and 4-year) and funding control (public, nonprofit, and for-profit). There is no designation for “trade school”. Some analysts choose to use less-than-2-year and 2-year for-profit institutions as a proxy for trade schools. Information on those schools is available in the Postsecondary/College section of this website.
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