Engaging Urban Students Through Career and Technical Education

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ACTE releases issue brief detailing career and technical education's (CTE) role in urban education. Today's CTE can help address many of the challenges urban schools face in connecting students to their futures through relevant education.

Aviation High School students in class working on an aircraft component.

Aviation High School (AHS), a public New York City high school in Queens, has set students on a direct pathway to careers in aviation maintenance and the aerospace industry.

Cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia are already seeing the advantages of targeted investment in CTE, as these programs provide the kind of relevant and engaging coursework that prepares students for successful careers.

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) today released an Issue Brief titled, “CTE’s Role in Urban Education,” describing the role career and technical education (CTE) plays in engaging urban students and addressing many of the unique challenges urban schools face in preparing students for college and careers.

Education in the United States is facing a crisis of completion and performance: an estimated 1.1 million students fail to graduate from high school each year and test scores for American students continue to fall behind those of students from other developed nations. The performance challenges are even more acute in America’s urban schools. Compared to national averages, students from urban school districts are more likely to perform at below-basic proficiency levels on national assessments and have significantly lower high school graduation rates. Students in urban schools face unique challenges, including a lack of school resources, economic challenges at home and in the community and a lack of adult role models who have obtained high-quality educational credentials. Given these obstacles, it can be difficult for urban students to connect education with a future of high-wage, high-demand and satisfying work.

Today’s CTE can help address many of these challenges and is on the cutting edge of connecting students to their futures through relevant education. CTE programs engage urban students by providing rigorous and relevant coursework, fostering positive relationships, establishing clear pathways and connecting education and careers. Improving the level of engagement in urban schools is essential to improving both performance and completion. Engaged CTE students not only stay in school, but improve their academic performance, showing that urban schools do not have to sacrifice rigorous academics to provide a relevant curriculum. Aviation High School (AHS), a public New York City High School in Queens, is one such example. Combining rigorous coursework in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies with world-class technical training, graduates from Aviation High can earn Federal Aviation Administration airframe and/or powerplant certifications. As of 2011, Aviation High School has been awarded four straight “A” ratings by the New York City Department of Education and has been recognized as one of the best high schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

“This Issue Brief provides insights on how urban schools benefit from utilizing CTE programs. Cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia are already seeing the advantages of targeted investment in CTE, as these programs provide the kind of relevant and engaging coursework that not only helps students academically, but prepares them for successful careers in high-demand fields,” said Jan Bray, Executive Director of ACTE.

To obtain a copy of the Issue Brief, please visit the ACTE website.

About ACTE
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the nation’s largest not-for-profit education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. It provides advocacy, public awareness and access to information, professional development and tools that enable members to be successful and effective leaders. Founded in 1926, ACTE has more than 25,000 members, including teachers, counselors and administrators at the middle school, high school and postsecondary levels.

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Ashley Parker
ACTE
(703) 683-9312
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