The Impact of Career and Technical Education (CTE) on Student Academic Achievement and Graduation Rates in the Commonwealth of Virginia
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 required that states set clear standards for what all students should learn, and hold schools accountable for student progress in the areas of language arts, reading, and mathematics to assess their abilities (USDOE, 2002). However, while NCLB emphasizes the core academic subjects (i.e., English, reading/language arts, mathematics science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography), it neglected to address Career and Technical Education (CTE) (i.e., agriculture; business and information technology; family and consumer sciences; marketing; health and medical sciences; technology; or trade and industry) in any part of the legislation. The purpose of this study was to compare the academic performance of CTE completers and non-CTE completers in the Commonwealth of Virginia on the Standards of Learning (SOL) Reading and mathematics assessments, and graduation rates. This study was modeled after and was an extension of a previous study by Blowe (2011), and represented a quantitative, quasi-experimental, correlational evaluation of ex post facto data to determine the effects of being a CTE completer on student academic success in high school. The findings show that the mean pass rate for CTE completers was higher than the mean pass rate for non-CTE completers for both the EOC Reading and EOC Algebra II SOLs, and that the mean graduation rate for CTE completers was higher than the mean graduation rate for non-CTE completers for each of the graduation cohorts years included in the study. An additional finding was the discovery of reporting discrepancies in division-reported data published by the VDOE. The findings in this study provided the researcher with valuable insight into the potential role of CTE in an improving schools model, including the utilization of a rigorous CTE curriculum as a strategy for improving SOL scores and graduation rates for all students. Additionally, this information may prove beneficial to educational and legislative leaders in developing policies governing CTE curriculum throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.