Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Draft Model Curriculum Standards

Background information of the revise Career Technical Education Model Curriculum Standards and Framework.

Briefing Paper

The Career Technical Education (CTE) Model Curriculum Standards are designed to assist California districts and schools in developing high quality curriculum and instruction to help ensure students are career and college ready and to prepare them for future careers. The model standards were created with assistance from more than 300 representatives from business, industry, postsecondary, and secondary education and were reviewed by nearly 1000 representatives including members of the general public. The standards are rigorous, evidence-based, relevant, and reasonable in scope. They offer clear guidelines for course content development and expectations for student achievement.


California Education Code Section 51226 provides legal authority to develop and revise the CTE standards and framework. This legislation requires the adoption of CTE standards that incorporate the integration of career technical and academic education no later than June 1, 2005. The legislation also states that the model curriculum standards shall be developed on a cyclical basis. Given the adoption of the English Language Arts and Mathematics Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the changes that occurred within the economy since 2005, it was determined that a revision of the CTE standards was necessary to align CTE programs with the new conditions.

The California State Plan for Career Technical Education, A BRIDGE TO THE FUTURE 2008–2012, approved by the State Board of Education in May 2008, provides guidance for California’s CTE programs in California. The State Plan states, “CTE programs are dynamic; curricula need to stay current with rapid changes in the workplace, requiring ongoing updates and learning on the part of CTE faculty.” Revising the CTE standards serves to help CTE programs remain current and relevant with the new economic and educational opportunities within the state.


The CTE Model Curriculum Standards were first adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE) on May 11, 2005. John Kendall and Robert Marzano of the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) developed the model used as the research-based format for the 2005 version of the standards. Building on their format, the revised CTE Model Curriculum Standards expands the research base used in writing the standards. The additional research includes the Wisconsin Center of Educational Research Depth of Knowledge Levels, the Rigor/Relevance Framework from the International Center for Leadership in Education, and A Model of Learning Objectives based on A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives from the Iowa State University Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. These concepts were incorporated in the Beyond Knowledge Construct used in guiding the development of the new standards.

Organization and Content

The CTE Model Curriculum Standards document is organized to be used as a complete document or can be used to access individual industry sectors and pathways. The document includes Standards for Career Ready Practice. The Standards for Career Ready Practice are intended for completion by all students either prior to entering a career technical education program or as integrated into other coursework in preparation to meet career and college readiness. Each of the 15 industry sector sections include a description, anchor standards, pathway standards, and an academic alignment matrix. A list of representatives that participated in the sector content development, and the references that were consulted during the process are also included.

Standards for Career Ready Practices

The Standards for Career Ready Practice are adopted from the Common Career Technical Core, a state-led initiative, sponsored by the National Association of Directors of Career Technical Education consortium with California adaptations to align with the CTE anchor standards. The twelve Standards for Career Ready Practice reflect the expectations from business and industry, labor, community, and education representatives from over 40 participating states.

Anchor Standards

The eleven Anchor Standards build on the Standards for Career Ready Practice and are common across the 15 industry sectors. Content for these standards was drawn from several documents; Preparing Students for the 21st Century Economy (American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education and Partnership for the 21st Century), Skills and Assessments: What Business Wants (American Association of Colleges and Universities and Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc), Importance of Skills and Knowledge for College and Career Readiness (MetLife Survey of The American Teacher), Are They Really Ready to Work? (Employers’ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce).

Each anchor standard is followed by performance indicators using action verbs from the Beyond Knowledge Construct organized in a simple to complex format. The performance indicators provide guidance for curriculum design and standards measurement. The industry sector anchor standards are customized, with selected additions to better reflect the special conditions and needs of a particular industry sector.

Anchor Standard 1: Academics, guides users to the sector specific Academic standards related to each industry sector, which are listed in the Alignment Matrix located at the end of each sector section. Anchor standards 2-10 are deliberately aligned to one of the Common Core English Language Arts standards, using similar language demonstrating the natural connections between the two subjects. Anchor Standard 11: Demonstration and Application, highlights classroom, laboratory and workplace learning specific to the individual sector and pathways.

Pathway Standards

Each of the 15 industry sectors contain from two to seven pathways. The pathways were determined and designed using the following criteria:

  • Unique to an industry sector
  • Has an occupational focus
  • Consistent in size and scope
  • Comprised of similar functions
  • Inclusive of all aspects of the industry
  • Include 8-12 pathway specific standards
  • Demonstrate sequence potential
  • Reasonable and appropriate for high school
  • Lead to high skill, high wage, or high demand jobs
  • Sustainable and viable over the next 10 years

Academic Alignment Matrix

Each sector includes an Academic Alignment Matrix that displays where a natural, obvious, alignment occurs. Compiled by five teams of academic content experts in collaboration with industry sector consultants, teachers, and other advisors the alignment was selected if it was determined that the pathway standard would enhance, reinforce, or provide an application for a specific academic subject standard. Subjects included in the alignment matrix include Common Core English Language Arts and Mathematics Standards, Next Generation Science Core Ideas, and History—Social Studies Standards.


The anchor standards are the basis for each of the pathways within each sector. The anchor standards are designed to assist with the development of course curricula and instructional lesson plans. The standards describe what is to be taught and measured. The teacher most often determines the sequence and strategies to be used to meet the needs of the student population to be served.

The CTE Model Curriculum Standards are intended to serve the entire education community from middle school, to high school, and postsecondary college or career training. Preparing students for the next steps in their pursuit of postsecondary education and training, and helping them make a smooth transition into the workforce at their point of entry is a major aim of these standards. It is vital to the economic development of the state, and the personal well-being of California’s citizenry, that all students emerge from California schools ready to pursue their career and college goals.

Strong CTE programs will continue to be an important educational opportunity to assist students in pursuing their individual dreams and attaining economic prosperity. The CTE Model Curriculum Standards will be a resource to educators and the business world for ensuring high quality CTE learning experiences, and improved student outcomes in the incredibly dynamic twenty-first century economy.

Questions:   Career Technical Education Leadership Office | 916-322-5050
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, May 11, 2022