Oregon’s new statewide plan for Career and Technical Education (CTE) teaches students skills necessary to succeed in high-wage, in-demand careers in the state
With its approval on May 29 by the U.S. Department of Education, Oregon’s CTE creates voluntary, statewide Program of Study Frameworks that will promote greater consistency in quality across the state, ensure more geographical equity, engage business and industry in the development of CTE programs throughout Oregon and encourage the use of shared resources.
“We went through an extensive process with educators, stakeholders and the business community to develop a strong, innovative CTE State Plan that will serve as a solid blueprint for Oregon’s education and economic success,“ said Oregon Department of Education (ODE) Director of CTE Jennell Ives. “We centered our plan around our vision to re-imagine and transform learner experiences in order to enhance their future prospects, empower their communities, and ensure equity in an inclusive, sustainable, innovation-based economy.”
Oregon receives about $30 million per biennium from the federal government for CTE programs and the state also supports CTE in Oregon with tens of millions of dollars of state funds per biennium via High School Success funds and community college support fund dollars. In 2019, 51,800 Oregon high school students and 53,818 community college students used CTE programs. CTE is proven effective to prepare our current and future workforce and grow entrepreneurs who can nimbly create new jobs and stimulate economic growth. Oregon’s CTE programs focus on the knowledge and skills needed to address evolving economic needs and can help our communities through the COVID-19 crisis.
Helen Taylor, a student in the Machining Technology Program at Chemeketa Community College started her CTE pathway as a student at South Salem High School. Her original plans were to follow in her dad’s footsteps and become an engineer. Helen shared that “after being exposed to the hands-on learning in the CTEC machine shop, she fell in love with machining”.
During her time at CTEC, she attended a career fair where she met staff from Chemeketa and became convinced that it was a “great school and the program head even took me on a tour before I got into the program”. Helen shared that she really enjoys her classes at Chemeketa and the programming side of things. While most of the students in her classes are a lot older than she is because they are retraining for the job market, she is gaining a lot of experience from everyone.
As part of her CTE experience, Helen was accepted into a summer internship at Boeing. While the internship was to last for three summers, she was only able to complete two. But that isn’t deterring her. Her plans for after graduating Chemeketa include “getting a job at Boeing as a machinists apprentice and completing my journeyman card”.
CTE programs not only advance a student’s career prospects, they also boost a student’s performance in the classroom. Students in a CTE Program of Study graduated high school at a far higher rate than the statewide average for a given year, 93.5% versus 80% for the cohort completing the 2018-2019 academic year. Data suggest that this phenomenon is consistent regardless of a student’s ethnicity, zip code or whether they’re experiencing disability.
Three innovations in Oregon’s CTE State Plan were highlighted by the U.S. Department of Education.
Career Exploration and Work-based Learning
Stakeholders consistently identified career exploration and work-based learning as high priorities for the future of CTE in Oregon. Business and industry partners strongly supported extension of career exploration into middle schools. All Oregonians need access to careers that fuel our economy and provide stability for themselves and their families. One way to achieve access is to provide improved information about the career opportunities available in the state and expand the opportunities for learners to see themselves in a variety of career fields, including ones that may be unfamiliar.
Improving Data Literacy
Oregon’s plan includes not only updating our CTE data systems and improving our data visualization and reporting, but committing to ongoing regional training on how to interpret and use data to inform equitable and continuous improvement in CTE with a specific focus on access, participation, and outcomes for Perkins-identified special populations.
Regional Structure and Peer Review
CTE Regional Coordinators are key partners in supporting program improvement and developing partnerships. Perkins grant applications and CTE plans will be shared for peer review through public presentations of regional plans, goals and activities. The public peer review process hopes to create greater transparency and public awareness of CTE across the state.
More information on Oregon’s CTE Plan can be found on the ODE website.