The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), launched the Promoting Rigorous Career and Technical Education Programs of Study grant program in 2009 to assess the contribution of career and technical education (CTE) programs of study on secondary students’ educational outcomes at the secondary and postsecondary levels. The six states selected to join the initiative—Arizona, Kansas, Maryland, Montana, Utah, and Wisconsin—worked to develop rigorous programs of study (RPOS) in high-wage, high-demand, and high-skill fields in accordance with OCTAE’s Program of Study Design Framework.
The program funding is in its final year, with five of the six states continuing activities under no-cost extensions for part or all of the 2014–15 academic year. For the grant, state-level CTE staff worked on one CTE program in three or more secondary local education agencies (LEAs) in urban, suburban, and rural locations and one or more partnering postsecondary institutions. Project activities included teacher professional development and coaching to integrate literacy and math skills into CTE coursework, the establishment of opportunities for CTE students to earn postsecondary credits in high school, and the introduction of new technical skill assessments.
The project’s third-party assessment combines annual site visits with the analysis of data on students who reach a threshold number of courses in the targeted CTE programs and comparison groups of students not participating in the project. Annual reports provide updates on project activities, describe state and local data reporting capacity, and offer strategies for improving the consistency and quality of data submissions.