Why are career-technical education stereotypes pervasive?
- A new study released by American Enterprise Institute shows that students enrolled in career and technical education (CTE) programs have higher non-cognitive skills than their same-school peers, despite low scores on standardized math and reading.
- CTE students are equally as likely to complete homework, less likely to be absent from class and equally focused in class as non-CTE students. They are also more likely to exhibit high levels of conscientiousness, which equates to a commitment to persistence in higher education and professional life.
- Nevertheless, according to researchers, CTE students struggle with motivation and self-esteem in these areas, but are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to have gainful employment and earn high wages than their peers.
There are multiple layers to explore why certain students are relegated to the prejudices and accompanying outcomes of parents, teachers and systems that divide learners into categories of 'likely' and 'unlikely' to succeed. Among the layers, race, class, geography, history and access to resources are the primary driver of how some students are pushed to desire and achieve certain educational outcomes.
How to break downs these layers is an important conversation, and one that leads all the way to Capitol Hill and how the federal government funds secondary and higher education as a result. The Trump administration is looking to capitalize on a signature element of the Obama-era educational policy, which is to create more opportunities for students in community and technical colleges in order to increase education affordability and to expand working-class opportunities that require less funding from the government.
Ultimately, it's clear that secondary and some higher education systems have an interesting way of sifting students for reasons that typically have little to do with their prospects for or demonstrated achievement. To combat this, institutions and their leaders will need continue to consider diversity in their student and faculty populations, while consistently researching ways to reduce confirmation bias. They also can increase their willingness to distinguish motivation problems from academic problems among all types of students, and not just those of a specific race or class.