For the Love of CTE

February 14, 2020 Sarah Williamson By Sarah Williamson
CTE students

February is CTE Month. This gives us an opportunity to celebrate our love for CTE and the accomplishments of the many students who are taking CTE courses across the country.

CTE courses are an important curriculum offering designed to better prepare students for the workforce and careers immediately following graduation. But a recent study also found that certain types of CTE courses can have a major impact on students early in their careers. Check out our full offering on CTE courses here:


Upper-Level CTE Courses Make the Biggest Impact

Daniel Kreisman and Kevin Stange recently conducted a study on vocational education and how CTE courses impact students early in their careers. The researchers developed a framework for curriculum choice, taking into account ability and preferences for academic and vocational work.

The results were two-fold. First, the belief that low ability students are funneled into vocational coursework is not the case. Secondly, they discovered that students who were taking more upper-level vocational courses experienced a nearly two percent wage increase for each additional year. On the other hand, they discovered that students did not experience a gain from solely taking introductory, vocational courses.

These results suggest (a) policies limiting students’ ability to take vocational courses may not be financially beneficial and (b) the benefits of vocational coursework accrue to those who focus on depth over breadth.


CTE: Depth vs. Breadth 

What do we mean when we say depth vs. breadth? Rather than focusing on multiple introductory CTE classes for a wide variety of experience, students who take upper-level courses and concentrate more deeply in one area of study, experience the greatest results: higher wages and increased satisfaction in CTE programs.


Engaging and Motiving Students with CTE

Students who take CTE courses know that they will be able to directly apply their learning to a variety of careers when they graduate. Hands-on learning experiences enable students to apply practical skills to real-world scenarios with multiple opportunities for students to build knowledge through inquiry, creation, connection, observation, and confirmation. This active learning approach is proven to develop critical thinking skills and prepares students for success in the workforce.

Juniors and seniors in high school who complete CTE courses are more likely to graduate on time and less likely to drop of school, compared to those who don’t participate in CTE programs. Taking one CTE class for every two academic classes minimizes the risk of students dropping out of high school, and the average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 93 percent, compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 80 percent. And 91 percent of high school graduates who earned two to three CTE credits enrolled in college.


How Apex Learning Can Help

Apex Learning CTE courses focus on full programs of study, preparing high school students to earn certifications that lead to real-world skills and higher wage jobs they can pursue immediately upon graduation. Programs of study in general management, human resources management, accounting and administrative support provide three-year course pathways that equip students for jobs where there is high demand for workers and provide students with the ability to earn the industry credentials employers are seeking.

Carefully designed sequences of introductory, intermediate, and capstone-level courses ensure students graduate ready for a job, certification, or technical school. Built to state, industry, and national standards, Apex Learning CTE courses provide students with the knowledge and skills required for career readiness. To learn more about our CTE Courses or to view our CTE catalog visit:


Subscribe to our Blog+

Subscribe to receive the latest from the Apex Learning blog.