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District study: Students in career and technical education programs do well

By Paul Socolar on Jan 15, 2015 11:00 AM

Philadelphia students who take part in career and technical education programs in District high schools are much more likely to graduate than their academically similar peers who do not participate in these programs, according to a new School District research study.

District researchers presented the findings at a public meeting at District headquarters on Wednesday. The results are a boost to proponents of career and technical education (CTE), once referred to as vo-tech and sometimes in the past derided as less rigorous than academic classes.

The District now has nearly 6,000 students in CTE schools and programs and plans to increase that number, based in part on these results. The study looked at outcomes for students who entered high school in 2010. Among the findings presented:

• The on-time graduation rate for students who participated in CTE programs was 22 percentage points higher than non-CTE students, despite the fact that the reading and math test scores of the two groups in 8th grade were statistically similar.

• "The CTE cohort demonstrates a significantly narrower achievement gap than the non-CTE cohort." African American and Latino students in CTE programs graduated at rates close to those of their White and Asian peers.

• In some CTE programs, there's more work to be done to ensure that participants are representative of the student population as a whole. For instance, only 12 percent of students in construction programs are female; girls make up only 15 percent of engineering technology students.

In a panel discussion about the findings, Olga Torres, a 19-year veteran CTE teacher at Mastbaum High School, highlighted the advantage of giving students hands-on learning experiences and real-world internship opportunities before they graduate high school. "Students have a skill under their belt so they are not working at McDonald's," she said. "They’re able to be out there and be somebody."

A limitation to the study was that it did not look closely for ways that the cohort of students entering CTE programs may be different from non-CTE students. Although test results of the two groups were similar in 8th grade, attendance rates were not. Students who entered CTE programs had 8th-grade absenteeism rates of only 2 percent, while the non-CTE students were absent three times that much. The researchers said they did not look at whether the behavior records of the two groups in 8th grade were different.

District CTE schools require that entering students have good attendance and behavior records.


Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that to be categorized as part of the CTE cohort for this study, students had to continue past 9th grade. In fact, students who did not progress past 9th grade but for whom a CTE school was the last school of record were counted as part of the CTE cohort. In other words, any student who dropped out from a CTE school was counted as a CTE dropout. 

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Comments (6)

Submitted by Paul Socolar on January 15, 2015 11:10 am

This just in from our colleagues at Catalyst-Chicago - some new research suggesting  the lower attendance of the non-CTE cohort in 8th grade is very significant for HS outcomes:

Following up on an earlier report, the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research  published two briefs last week examining indicators of college readiness in middle school and high school. Among the findings: Middle school attendance is critical to determining whether students are on-track to graduate in high school. Small variations in eighth-grade attendance, the middle school report found, lead to drastic differences in high school on-track records. Students with 96 percent attendance had a 77 percent likelihood of being on track for college by ninth grade, for example, but when attendance drops to 90 percent, that likelihood falls to 44 percent.

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on January 15, 2015 12:58 pm

The same would apply to most charters.  If a student is applying to a charter, they are more likely  to have good attendance (and behavior). Freire, for example, asks for report cards.  They are able to siphon off who is in the lottery.  This obviously isn't as selective as SLA, Masterman and Central, but it is selective.  Students who "check out" in middle school are quickly behind.

Submitted by Kevin Roderick (not verified) on March 12, 2015 3:08 am

Here the survey reports says about the progress of Philadelphia students who take part in different career program occurred in the district. In every city we have found educational institutions are taking beneficial steps to develop the career building programs for students and as a result under CTC (Career and Technical Education) students are able to build a better career.

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Submitted by JohnPearson (not verified) on July 14, 2017 3:56 am

I guess with these programs students will get good opportunity. I have seen an article by custom essay writing service and it also describes the same written here. I hope students will get the good opportunnity.

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