Does Career and Technical Education Affect College Enrollment?

Publication February 2006

Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97) and its transcript component, we examine vocational education (now known as career and technical education, or CTE) for a recent cohort of youths. We describe and distinguish between CTE coursetaking and participation in particular career-related programs of courses and activities (career majors, Tech Prep, and work-based learning programs such as job shadowing and cooperative education). We find that the majority of American high school students participate in CTE courses and work-related activities, and this holds across demographic subgroups. Black students participate in career-related programs at higher rates than any other group, while males and females participate at similar rates. Students in the lowest income quartile are the least likely to report participation in career-related programs and activities, but the most likely to take proportionately more career and technical education courses than academic ones. Students who scored in the bottom half of the ASVAB Arithmetic Reasoning test distribution are also more likely to take high ratios of CTE-to-academic courses. We find that while participation in career-related programs does not generally impede college attendance, higher ratios of CTE-to-academic courses are associated with reductions in the chances of college attendance, even after adjusting for selection characteristics often associated with course trajectories.

DeLuca, S., Plank, S., & Estacion, A. (2006, February). Does career and technical education affect college enrollment? St. Paul, MN: National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, University of Minnesota.

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