Once considered an add-on program, career and technical education (CTE) continues to raise its profile in mainstream education. And now, CTE is being recognized as a method for building core skills.
A Hill briefing last Wednesday focused on the crucial, yet rarely recognized, connection between literacy and CTE. Held by the Advocates for Literacy (of which NASSP is a leading member) and the Senate CTE Caucus, this event marks an important step in the CTE movement—underscoring that CTE success requires student literacy skills, which can be advanced in the context of high-quality CTE programs.
No one can address this topic with greater authority than 2014 MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year Dr. Sheila Harrity, who presented her school’s success in programming that combines traditional high school academics with CTE curriculum.
Principal at Worcester Technical High School (MA), Dr. Harrity explained that the school’s engaging career and technical curriculum builds students’ interest in school, especially those considered at-risk. With her school’s successful CTE programs, Dr. Harrity noted that students with low levels of literacy and academic achievement have seen significant gains when confronted with schoolwork that piques their interests and has visible, real-world application.
Senate CTE Caucus co-chairs Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) offered remarks at the briefing. Senator Kaine, clearly passionate about the topic, noted that the Senate CTE Caucus’ goal is to de-stigmatize CTE and even make it “really hot, sexy, and cool.” Kaine, who earlier in the day introduced legislation to pilot CTE programs in middle school, added, “Technical education is coming back strong and it’s something we can celebrate.”