Career and technical education and workplace readiness of high school students
Parker, Amy Johnson
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For generations, legislation has supported the use of vocational (now termed CTE) education as a means of preparing students for the labor markets. Educators have followed suit by making pathways available to students, giving them an option to select training to prepare for college or workforce while in high school. However, in order to ensure that students are prepared to support the growing workforce demands of the economy, legislators and educators alike must understand the type of programming, experiences, and training necessary to provide students with these skills. If neither CTE nor CP programs support this cause, additional, non-traditional avenues must be chartered to ensure a viable workforce for the 21st century. The purpose of this causal-comparative study was to determine if the workplace readiness level of high school seniors, based upon student performance on the ACT WorkKeys® assessment, is different between students pursuing a Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) diploma endorsement and those pursuing a College Preparatory (CP) endorsement. A CTAE endorsement may be termed as Career and Technical Education (CTE), Tech Prep, or Vocational, depending upon the state and/or school district granting the diploma. While the results of this study are not indicative of findings to support CTE as a path for increasing students’ workplace readiness, CP also was not discovered to be a superior method. Based upon the findings of this study, neither students who complete CTE coursework or those who complete a CP diploma track score significantly higher on WorkKeys® assessments. This comparison also holds true when evaluating the number of certificates earned by students in the two categories.