Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

CTE General Public Fact Sheet

Career Technical Education (CTE) fact sheet for parents, students, and the general public.

Career technical education (CTE) provides students and adults with the academic and technical skills, knowledge and training necessary to succeed in future careers and develop skills they will use throughout their careers.

CTE programs have been organized into 15 industry sectors that identify the knowledge and skills students need as they follow a pathway to their goals.

CTE prepares students for the world of work by introducing them to workplace competencies, and makes academic content accessible to students by providing it in a hands-on context.

State CTE programs can be found in comprehensive high schools with CTE programs, high schools solely devoted to CTE and in Regional Occupational Centers and Programs (ROCPs) and California Partnership Academies (CPAs).

Some CTE programs are blended with academic programs in what is known as a “linked learning model”. Community colleges and technical institutes also offer CTE at the postsecondary level.

Why CTE?

College and Career Readiness

Eighty percent of students in college prep and rigorous CTE met college and career readiness goals versus only 63 percent of students taking only college prep. (Southern Regional Education Board, High Schools That Work 2012 Assessment).

Attendance in a CTE program more than doubles the rate of college entrance for minority students. (A Model for Success: CART’s Linked Learning Program Increases College Enrollment, Irvine Foundation 2011)

Higher Graduation Rates

Ninety percent CTE student graduation rate in high school versus only 75 percent average nationwide graduation rate. (U.S. Department of Education 2007-2008 data, National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc analysis)

At Risk Students Stay in School

High–risk students are eight to ten times less likely to drop out in the 11th and 12th grades if they enroll in a CTE program. (Kulik, “Curriculum Tracks and High School Vocational Studies,” University of Michigan, 1998.)

CTE has increased school connectedness, reduced behavioral problems related to suspensions and expulsions, and reduced dropouts in all student groups, but especially among students who are at highest risk of dropping out. (Op. Cite, University of Memphis, 2004)

Success in College

Students who complete a blended academic–career curriculum are more likely to pursue postsecondary education, have a higher GPA in college and are less likely to drop out of college in the first year. (Southern Regional Education Board, “Facts About High School Career/Technical Studies”)

Seventy–nine percent of CTE concentrators enrolled in postsecondary education within 2 years of high school graduation. (NASDCTEc website)

Eighty percent of CTE concentrators persisted in postsecondary education. (NASDCTEc website)

Twenty–seven percent of people with less than an associate’s degree (including licenses and certificates) earn more than the average bachelor’s degree recipient. (NASDCTEc website)

CTE credentials awarded nationally in 2006: 2,022,885. (NASDCTEc website)

Success in Work and Life

Ninety–five percent of CTE concentrators who did not enroll in postsecondary education worked for pay within two years of high school graduation. (NASDCTEc)

Many worked in occupations related to their high school areas of concentration (NASDCTEc):

  • Construction and Architecture: 43 percent
  • Consumer/Culinary Services: 39 percent
  • Repair and Transportation: 39 percent

Experts project 47 million job openings in the decade ending 2018. About one–third will require an associate’s degree or certificate, and nearly all will require real–world skills that can be mastered through CTE (NASDCTEc).

Career Technical Education

CTE is for all students, and covers 15 industry sectors, covering 58 career pathways. The work is integrated with academics in a rigorous and relevant curriculum. Partnerships are usually developed between high schools, businesses and postsecondary schools, providing pathways to employment and/or associate, bachelor’s and advanced degrees. Along the way, students develop career–relevant, real-world 21st Century skills.

California Partnership Academies: Schools Within Schools. Career Focused. Family Oriented.
  • At least 50 percent of incoming CPA students must be at-risk of completing high school
  • Beat state averages in passing the CA High School Exit Exam
  • Seniors graduate on time at a rate of 95 percent– 10 percent higher than the state average
  • 57 percent of Graduates Meet University of California a-g requirements – 21 percent higher than the statewide average.

Profile of the CPAs 2009-2010,
Career Academy Support Network
California Department of Education, 2011

Questions:   Career and College Transition Division | 916-445-2652
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, September 27, 2022