National Initiatives
Programs of Study

Perkins IV requires states and local grantees to offer "career and technical programs of study" that incorporate secondary and postsecondary elements; include coherent and rigorous content aligned with challenging academic standards and relevant career and technical contents in a coordinated, non-duplicative progression of courses that align secondary to postsecondary education; may include opportunity for secondary education students to gain postsecondary education credits through dual or concurrent enrollment programs or other means; and lead to an industry-recognized credential or certificate at the postsecondary level or an associate or baccalaureate degree.

OCTAE's Programs of Study Design Framework identifies 10 key components and corresponding subcomponents that, taken together, support the development and implementation of effective programs of study. Although all 10 components are important, they are neither independent nor of equal priority: State and local program developers must identify the most pressing components to be addressed given particular educational, workforce, and economic contexts.

2010 Promoting Rigorous POS Grant Competition

Winning Grantee Applications

2008 Rigorous POS Grant through Statewide Articulation Agreements Competition

Winning Grantee Applications

The Promoting Rigorous Career and Technical Education Programs of Study (RPOS) project assesses the potential contribution that comprehensive, well-formulated programs of study can make to students' educational attainment and post-program success.

The six states participating in this four-year project—Arizona, Kansas, Maryland, Montana, Utah, and Wisconsin—are working to design and implement rigorous programs of study (RPOS) that incorporate the 10 key components of effective programs identified within OCTAE’s Program of Study Design Framework. Project work is focused on three local education agencies (LEAs) within each state, which include an urban, suburban, and rural school district, as well as partnering postsecondary institutions.

First-year efforts (2010–11) focused on assisting states and LEAs in implementing and/or strengthening Framework components that were identified as missing or in need of improvement. Based on the results of a gap analysis, states prioritized program areas in need of attention and created improvement strategies to address pressing needs. States subsequently submitted baseline demographic and post-program outcome data for 12th-grade students enrolled in the participating LEAs. These first-year data, which correspond to the 2009–10 academic year (i.e., the year preceding the start of project work), include information on students who were concentrators in programs selected for the RPOS project, as well as a comparison population that included 12th-grade CTE concentrators and all other 12th-grade students enrolled in the LEA.

Second-year activities (2011–12) have centered on strengthening states' capacity to report valid and reliable data. The project team has supported states in establishing common definitions of RPOS; selecting comparison students within local sites; constructing consistent reporting measures across and within states; and implementing uniform methods for collecting data on RPOS students and comparison groups. States again collected data for 12th-grade students enrolled in participating LEAs. These 2010–11 academic year data document the characteristics and immediate post-program experiences of high school seniors who graduated in 2011.

Project Year Measurement Year RPOS Population Description
2010-2011 2009-2010 Pre-treatment: Concentrators in CTE programs that were subsequently selected for RPOS inclusion
2011-2012 2010-2011 Program Year 1: Concentrators in the RPOS program during the implementation of improvement strategies
2012-2013 2011-2012 Program Year 2: Concentrators in RPOS programs who experienced one full year of improvement strategies
2013-2014 2012-2013 Program Year 3: Concentrators in RPOS programs who experienced two full years of improvement strategies

Annual reports are intended to assess the characteristics and post-program educational experiences of students who achieve concentrator status in their state-identified RPOS. Over the course of the project, the study will seek to answer three primary research questions:

  1. How do the characteristics of secondary RPOS concentrators differ from those of secondary students who either did not concentrate in a CTE program or who were CTE concentrators in other programs?
  2. How do the performance outcomes of secondary RPOS concentrators compare with those of two groups of students:
    • Students within the LEA who were concentrators in other CTE programs, and
    • Students who did not concentrate in a CTE program (including CTE participants and non-participants)?
  3. How do the outcomes that secondary RPOS concentrators achieve vary according to the presence or absence of RPOS Framework components within their LEA?

To address the first two questions, the research team collected aggregate data on all 12th grade students enrolled in participating LEAs within each state during the 2009–10 and 2010–11 academic years. A first year report (PDF, 422 KB) uses data from the 2009–10 academic year to describe the characteristics and outcomes of 12th-grade students enrolled in CTE programs that subsequently were selected for the RPOS project. A second year report (PDF, 423, KB) extends the analysis, documenting the characteristics and immediate post-program experiences of 12th-grade students who graduated in 2011 after participating in the first full year of the program.


Related Resources

Programs of Study Design Framework
Download (PDF, 1.3 MB)
Components and Sub-components
Download (DOC, 45 KB)

OCTAE Contacts

Albert Palacios

Robin Utz

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