Nov 1 Written by: Alisha Hyslop
November 1, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Over the past few years, there has been growing attention from both policymakers and educators on improving the country’s lowest-performing schools. Federal education legislation and new accountability systems in states have shed light on the fact that chronic underachievement exists in communities across the country, and have helped to identify the schools that are most in need of improvement.

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers when it comes to improving persistently low-achieving schools. While schools, states, and districts adopt and develop programs and strategies to systemically improve student performance, career and technical education (CTE) should not be overlooked. As numerous schools around the country have discovered, CTE programs can engage students, contribute to increased academic achievement, and help put students on a path to a high school diploma, postsecondary education and rewarding careers.

To shed more light on this subject, the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is in the process of developing an issue brief on the role of CTE in turning around the country’s lowest-performing schools. The brief, to be released later this fall, will include research showing how CTE can contribute to students’ engagement, achievement and transition to postsecondary education and careers.

The issue brief will profile a number of high schools that use CTE successfully as part of their school improvement interventions.  In New Britain, Connecticut, the 2012 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year, Michael Foran, has integrated new CTE programs into his turnaround efforts to personalize learning. CTE career academies have also been implemented to engage students in turnaround efforts at Miami Central High School in Florida and Seneca Valley High School in Maryland. Other educators, such as the principal at Mojave High School in Las Vegas, see the potential of CTE programs to help improve math scores.

These efforts are backed up by research that shows that CTE programs can reduce dropout rates, increase graduation rates, improve academic achievement, increase student readiness for college and careers, and lead to greater earnings among graduating students.

Stay tuned for more information on this important topic!  In future blog posts, we will provide a preview of three high school profiles.

This is the first in a series of four posts on using career and technical education (CTE) to turn around low-performing schools.  Click here to read the next posts in the series: CTE’s Role in Turning Around Low-performing Schools: New Britain, ConnecticutCTE’s Role in Turning Around Low-performing Schools: Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, Texas, and CTE’s Role in Turning Around Low-performing Schools: Covington, KY.

Guest Author: Alisha Hyslop is the Assistant Director of Public Policy at the Association for Career and Technical Education and is the author of the upcoming ACTE Issue Brief titled “CTE’s Role in Turning Around Low-performing Schools.”

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