Career and Technical Education Participation in Vermont

A Policy Analysis of the Factors Affecting CTE Participation Rates
PRS Briefs
PRS Policy Brief 0506-03
Thursday, February 23, 2006

Vermont's Career and Technical Education (CTE) program works with high schools to provide students with technical education programs for at least one of their last two secondary years, with the goal of satisfying Vermont's job placement and business demands. CTE offers 64 career and technical education programs in 15 regional technical centers and six comprehensive high schools in subjects like automotive technology, construction, video production, and cosmetology. Technical education centers accept applications from students in their junior and senior years; once accepted into a program, students spend an average of four hours a day per semester in classes for their career cluster of choice. Each technical center serves a specific set of high schools in a defined geographical area called a "service region." Within each service region, sending schools pay for the students' transportation costs and tuition to the technical center. Students also have the option of attending a technical center outside of their home service region, but they must provide their own transportation. According to our 2003-2004 data, participation in the regional technical education programs totaled 1,877 students, or 12.6 percent of the total eligible student population. Technical education is an aid to the economic development of Vermont: information from the Vermont Department of Education reveals that a wide range of public and private employers hires graduates of the CTE programs. Some of these organizations are the State Highway Department, Cody Chevrolet, J.C. Penney, Vermont Nurses Association Adult Daycare Centers, IBM, and Dubois & King Engineers. Therefore, CTE programs are viewed as a valuable resource for both employers and job seekers who want to learn skills applicable to immediate job placements. Our research addresses Vermont's legal obligation "to oversee technical education, to ensure that it is coordinated with academic education, to make it accessible to adult and high school students, and to coordinate it with workforce development efforts" under the federally mandated Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act (Public Law 105-332). Specifically, our research addresses the extent to which Vermont's regional technical centers are accessible to high school students across the state. We define accessibility in terms of a sending school's distance from a technical center and the number of programs offered by the technical center to the schools in its service region. We then measure the effects on student participation of the potential barriers to accessibility created by distance and program offerings. Finally, we offer policy options that may improve statewide access to technical education based on our findings.