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Benefits of CTE in Kentucky Middle and High Schools

Benefits of CTE in Kentucky Middle and High Schools

One of Kentucky’s educational goals is to prepare students for successfully transitioning out of high school and into either higher education or the workforce. Per the Kentucky Department of Education, “The percentage of students making [a] successful transition is a component of the high school accountability index.” For this reason, career and technical education (CTE) is an integral component of high school curricula. But, is there a benefit of incorporating CTE courses at earlier grade levels?

CTE in Middle School

Early exposure to career exploration during middle school offers students a glimpse into potential career fields and the ability to develop their strengths and skills before even setting foot in high school. Without the pressure of graduation being just around the corner, students in these grade levels are afforded the chance to explore careers in a low-stakes environment.  

As an applicable way to think about how CTE can be used in middle school, let’s think about Kentucky middle school STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives. The list of middle school STEM courses echo Kentucky CTE programs of study, meaning that STEM courses and CTE courses are not necessarily mutually exclusive, as quality CTE programs have the potential to provide a strong foundation to STEM competency and skills.

Besides having the ability to strengthen applied career skillsets, middle school students enrolled in CTE courses are also able to build and strengthen transferable vocational skills, such as communication, critical thinking, and collaboration—all relevant skills that improve academic success, as well as career readiness, prior to entering high school.  

CTE in High School

While CTE courses in middle school provide for a great starting point into career exploration, CTE courses in high school provide an avenue into career development. What sorts of careers do high school students see themselves pursing? Do they see themselves continuing into postsecondary education or entering straight into the workforce after graduation? Pivotal decisions are made at these grade levels, and exposure to CTE courses can help students narrow down which field they wish to pursue.

High school students in Kentucky districts might be able to demonstrate career readiness by obtaining relevant work experience outside of the classroom under a newly proposed provision change, according to the Bowling Green Daily News. Kentucky has introduced a transition readiness requirement where the goal is to set up students for success for their next step beyond high schoolwhether that includes higher education or direct entrance into a career. Per the Kentucky Department of Education,One focus of the new accountability system is the development of students who are well-rounded, transition-ready, and prepared with knowledge, skills and essential dispositions to succeed in the next educational setting or career pathway. Students ready for the next level are transition ready.” Hands-on vocational training, coupled with CTE courses, can give students that well-rounded edge employers seek and help Kentucky schools meet their accountability metrics.

For more on career exploration, visit our complete list of CTE courses on the Edmentum course catalog, which offers 100+ CTE courses spanning all 16 nationally recognized Career Clusters®. And don’t forget to check out Edmentum’s article, “The Importance of Middle and High School CTE Programs,” which not only discusses CTE in middle school and high school but also provides more information about Edmentum’s certification preparation course offerings.