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Study Reviews Alignment of Standards for Career Tech. Education

The Career Technical Education community recently agreed on a common set of more rigorous standards for student learning and a new report released today looks at how current state policy compares with the new benchmarks.

The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium finds in its 50-state alignment review that there is a "significant mismatch" between the states' current CTE standards and the new Common Career Technical Core.

The CCTC is a set of voluntary standards for each of the 16 CTE career clusters and their corresponding pathways, as well as 12 overarching practices to ensure students are career ready. Last year, NASDCTEc sought input from about 3,500 individuals in 42 states and the District of Columbia representing higher education, K-12, and business to shape the standards.

The CCTC standards are very different from most of the existing state-developed or industry-developed CTE standards.

"The CCTC are benchmark standards that define what students need to know and be able to do at the end of a program of study," while many existing state standards are more job-focused, according to the report.

Today's report is designed to provide states with information to guide their decision of whether to adopt the CCTC. States will be given customized alignment reports to help them determine if they want to move forward with CCTC.

The report notes that the CCTC is not meant to be a "wholesale replacement" for existing standards. The new benchmarks could supplement state standards or replace them.

The analysis found that existing CTE standards are only partially aligned to the CCTC benchmark standards in all 16 career clusters. The mismatch can be explained by the different organization and intents of the CCTC and state standards.

The NASDCTEc analysis shows that while most states have the authority to adopt standards at both the secondary and postsecondary level, standards are much more prevalent at the secondary level.

There are 46 states (and three territories) that have approved secondary CTE standards, 13 states (and two territories) with postsecondary standards, but only Iowa, Oregon, and Guam have CTE standards that fully align between both those sectors.

NASDCTEc calls for a commitment to delivering CTE organized by the National Career Clusters Framework. While most states have adopted the framework as a model for how they describe their CTE system, few have embraced it in a way that directly affects CTE instruction.

Moving forward, NASDCTEc recommends that states consider adopting the CCTC, implement CTE standards with fidelity, fill the postsecondary CTE standards gap, and continue making progress on programs of study.

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