Career and Technical Education: Preparing Students for College and Career Success

Career and technical education (CTE) is a critical strategy for preparing youth and adults for future education and workforce opportunities. CTE allows students to combine learning with real-world experiences—and develop crucial academic, technical, and employability skills. CTE can also help address the increasing skills gap—a disparity between the skills job-seekers offer and the skills that employers need. States and regions, school districts, and individual institutions are creating innovative CTE programs that pave the way for students and adults to successfully continue their education and obtain high-wage, high-demand careers. Nationwide, AIR is supporting organizations large and small to strengthen CTE through rigorous research, evaluation, and technical assistance.

Highlights of AIR's Work

AIR is leading a federally funded network designed to increase the evidence base on CTE programs. The goal of the Career and Technical Education Research Network is to share information, build new knowledge, and assist leaders and practitioners in their efforts to strengthen CTE policies and programs and improve student outcomes.

AIR and its partners will also conduct the Congressionally-mandated evaluation of career and technical education under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act of 2018, also known as Perkins V. The research team will examine the implementation of the new law, which introduced some important changes in federal support for the design, administration, and measurement of CTE. Key tasks for the project include developing and fielding surveys of state and local CTE administrators, publishing an evidence review focused on career development and counseling, and analyzing extant data to describe CTE participation and student outcomes.

Additional Resources

In addition, AIR has published CTE-related research-to-practice briefs, including:

AIR Services in Career and Technical Education

AIR staff are actively engaged in improving career pathways for all learners. We offer expertise in policy, research, and practice associated with high-quality, well integrated CTE and career pathways systems.

  • We support states, districts, and educators by providing rigorous research, evaluation, data analysis, technical assistance, and capacity building related to CTE and the development of career pathways.
  • We provide guidance on the development of industry-specific in-demand pathways, and assist states, districts and schools with using data to support and align CTE systems.
  • We engage with the field to improve recruitment, preparation and professional development of CTE teachers.
Managing Researcher
Image of Katherine Hughes
Principal Researcher