Analysis of Outcomes of Students Participating in Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs

About the Project

The School District of Philadelphia offers Career and Technical Education (CTE) options to high school students. The Office of Career and Technical Education has information about a variety of courses that offer instruction in specific, practical, and professional skills that can help prepare students for life after high school graduation. CTE programs have been offered in more than 40 different occupational areas in 29 schools across the District. ORE assesses the outcomes of all high school students who participate in CTE, with particular attention to:

  1. The relationships between CTE participation and credit attainment through graduation;
  2. Characteristics of students who do (or do not) elect to pursue CTE; and
  3. Identifying sub-groups that might require targeted supports.

ORE’s analyses follow a cohort-based approach. ORE regularly identifies a cohort of first-time 9th graders and examines their four-year progress through high school. Administrative data are used to identify the demographic characteristics of the entire cohort, as well as differences that might exist between students who pursue CTE and those who do not. This longitudinal approach also allows for a nuanced examination of complex student trajectories. For example, we can examine the relationship between CTE participation or non-participation on academic performance, credit accumulation, and graduation among race/ethnicity, gender, special education, economically disadvantaged, and English Learner (EL) subgroups.

Key Findings

  1. Students who participate in CTE are more likely to accumulate credits and graduate on time than those who do not pursue CTE. This finding has been highly consistent across multiple cohorts, multiple grade levels, and after controlling for a variety of student characteristics.
  2. Compared with their peers, students who participate in CTE are more likely to be Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, male, and economically disadvantaged.
  3. In terms of prior academic success, CTE students have similar academic attendance histories, and they are less likely to score proficient or advanced on the PSSA.
  4. Compared to non-CTE students, CTE students are more likely to persist in the District and graduate on time.
  5. When CTE students fall below grade level, they may face a decision about whether to discontinue CTE to remediate missing credits. Analyses suggest that this is not the best approach, as these students are more likely to recover if they continue their CTE programming.

For More Information

Contact Ashley Tanz, MPH-MBE: atanz@philasd.org.

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