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Career and Technical Education (CTE)

10 Steps to Growing Your CTE Program

May 11th, 2022 | 4 min. read

Joshua Witherspoon

Joshua Witherspoon

After serving as a Texas FFA state officer in 2018, Josh Witherspoon joined the iCEV team as a part-time employee for 3 years before taking on the role of content development specialist in 2022. Witherspoon holds a bachelor's degree in agricultural communications from Texas Tech University, in which his experience and proficiency in writing, marketing and CTE allow him to effectively communicate the successes of CTE educators and students and the value iCEV has to offer.

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To keep pace with growing economic demands and prepare students to compete in a competitive workforce, education providers are turning to Career and Technical Education (CTE). The challenge for educators now is growing and sustaining CTE programs to effectively prepare students for their futures. CTE offers immense value to today’s students by offering opportunities for experiential learning and career exploration as well as personal and professional development. In this blog, we will discuss steps educators can take to grow and increase the effectiveness of their CTE programs to ensure CTE remains an option for students.


1.) Empower CTE Educators and Administrators

At the core of any successful CTE program, educators and administrators play an integral role in ensuring students have meaningful and impactful learning experiences. Empowering CTE educators and administrators through relevant professional development, access to resources, and meaningful support adds immense value to a CTE program. CTE teachers must be energized, confident, and equipped with the tools and support needed to lead and grow a CTE program effectively.

2.) Integrate Standards-Aligned Curriculum

CTE curriculum should reflect industry standards, align to core competencies and be consistent with programs of study. An integrated standards-aligned curriculum is one of the 12 elements of high-quality CTE that addresses curriculum development, implementation, and revision, including the relevant knowledge and skills taught. To ensure growth for a CTE program and the success of its students implementing an integrated standards-aligned curriculum enables a CTE program to stay up to date on industry standards and academic requirements students must meet before entering the industry.

3.) Deliver Engaging, Dynamic Instruction

By nature, CTE is more engaging than other subject areas due to the real-world applicability of the instruction. The key for today’s CTE educators is enhancing and diversifying how students learn by implementing varied instructional models. Varied instructional models include experiential learning, project-based learning and work-based learning. By varying the way students interact with curriculum and new skills, educators are better able to effectively challenge students to expand their knowledge and skills for their future careers.

4.) Implement Skills Verification

A significant goal of CTE is to develop and educate students to be successful in their future career endeavors. While developing relevant skills and knowledge is essential, CTE also offers students innovative ways to showcase their knowledge and skills. In addition to formative and summative assessments, CTE offers unique opportunities for alternative assessment options, such as industry certifications, portfolios and capstone projects. These innovative means of verifying knowledge and skills are useful when students begin applying for jobs or continuing their education.

5.) Incorporate Career Awareness & Development

Career awareness and development are of the most valuable takeaways a student can gain from participating in a CTE program. Career awareness and development are central to CTE programs and courses. They expose students to various career opportunities and pathways to enhance their knowledge and skills related to career interests. Incorporating career awareness and development will not only grow a CTE program but will provide valuable perspective into the workforce for students.

6.) Engage Students through CTSOS

Career and Technical State Organizations (CTSO) provide a unique intra-curricular model where students can participate in competitive and leadership events showcasing the knowledge and skills gained through CTE instruction. CTSOs are comprised of four pillars, leadership development, competitive events, professional development and community service, all while offering countless benefits to students and your program. CTSOs flourish when teachers use them as a supplemental tool for their curriculum as teachers provide the foundation of the content in the classroom, students gain career, leadership and personal skills by participating in CTSOs.

7.) Create Partnerships with Local Businesses and Industry

The connection between CTE and local business and industry organizations is vital

to the success of a CTE program. Local businesses and industry leaders offer valuable insight into the workforce, access to resources and support for a growing CTE program. Engage with these individuals by asking them to serve as stakeholders through advisory committees, community support groups and fundraising efforts to maximize workforce knowledge and resources in your local community.

8.) Ensure Equitable Access

Equitable access is paramount in any CTE program, as all students deserve to learn and develop skills relevant to their career interests. Regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or special population status, CTE offers value to all learners. When looking to grow a CTE program, equitable access is of utmost importance as students add value to a program through diverse experiences, perspectives and knowledge they contribute during the learning process.

9.) Maintain and Improve Facilities and Equipment

Due to the technical nature of CTE, effective CTE programs require high-quality equipment and facilities. CTE, unlike other programs, offers students the opportunity to interact with equipment and materials used every day in the workforce. Maintaining and improving facilities and equipment is an essential facet of a successful and growing CTE program as it adds value to students’ learning experiences and the effectiveness of the overall program.

10.) Utilize Data to Monitor program Performance

Collecting and monitoring data provides numerous benefits to CTE programs, including monitoring growth, access student performance, and better understanding of the state of the program. Consistent evaluation of data and analytics should be incorporated into all CTE programs to effectively implement meaningful changes based on systematic data analysis.

Growing a CTE program is no easy task. It takes the collective efforts of teachers, administrators, the local community, and businesses to provide the next generation of the workforce with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful. To learn more about growing a CTE program, download iCEV’s “10 Steps to Growing Your CTE Program” infographic and stay tuned on our social media channels for more CTE program resources.

Download the Infographic