Career technical education a growing priority for states, study shows

State policymakers across the country continue to make career technical education a priority, according to new research from Advance CTE, the Association for Career and Technical Education and the Education Commission of the States. The research found that roughly 60 more policies related to CTE were passed in 2019 than in 2018.

In 2019, at least 45 states enacted or passed at least 208 policy actions related to CTE or career readiness through legislation, executive orders, board of education actions or budget provisions.

The study, “State Policies Impacting CTE: 2019 Year in Review,” found that common policy areas in 2019 were similar to those from previous years. The majority of states focused on expanding or improving CTE funding, industry partnerships and work-based learning, industry-recognized credentials, governance, and access and equity.

California was one of 35 states to adopt at least one policy addressing industry partnerships and work-based learning, which focus on helping school districts and colleges partner with local and regional industry leaders to drive student learning through internships, on-the-job training or other means.

The report has tracked career-ready and CTE-related policies affecting industry partnerships and work-based learning since 2014 and consistently finds them to been one of the top five policy areas of focus for states. “For CTE learners, work-based learning allows them to develop technical and real-world skills and reinforce and deepen their classroom learning. Within this policy category, state leaders have increasingly turned to apprenticeships as a strategy to address the skills gap,” researchers write.

To that end, California’s 2019–20 state budget appropriated $4.13 million for the Agricultural Career Technical Education Incentive Grant, which provides local educational agencies with funds to improve the quality of their agricultural vocational education programs. The goal of these programs is to ensure there is a constant source of employable, trained and skilled individuals entering the agricultural workforce.

Legislators also passed Senate Bill 586 (Roth, D-Riverside), which requires the governing boards of community college districts and K-12 school districts that provide CTE pathways to consult with the appropriate local workforce development board to determine whether current career pathway programs are aligned with regional and statewide employment needs.

The State Allocation Board meanwhile approved $250 million for the next funding cycle of the Career Technical Education Facilities Program created by the passage of Proposition 51. The 2016 measure — which approved $9 billion in bonds to fund construction and improvement of K-12 and community college facilities — includes $500 million to construct and modernize CTE facilities as well as to purchase equipment on comprehensive high school sites.

California was among the 41 states that addressed CTE funding in 2019; one of 25 states to address equitable access to CTE coursework; and one of 25 states to adopt policies that address responsibility within the state for CTE. Researchers said the category could include the development of new committees or task forces and transfers of authority.

CSBA resources:

Blog post: “Strong interest in $250M for CTE; State Allocation Board hears other program updates”

Governance and Policy: Career Technical Education

Governance and Policy: Regional Occupational Centers and Programs

Governance brief: “Supporting STEM Access, Equity, and Effectiveness: STEM and CTE Work for California’s Economic Future”

California Schools magazine: The Future is Theirs: Preparing students for postsecondary success through career and technical education