Mature Programs of Study: A Postsecondary Perspective – Year 3 Technical Report

Publication July 2011

There is consensus from many fronts that high schools are not adequately preparing students for college or the workplace. Perkins IV introduced promising legislation to promote programs of study (POS) as one way to address this problem for career technical education (CTE) students. In response to the requirement that Perkins recipients offer at least one POS, many districts have begun to create them. However, research is needed on whether and how POS are benefitting students.

This NRCCTE research study identifies and describes “mature” POS to understand how they work and why. We began with postsecondary institutions and are using a “backward mapping” technique to investigate how these colleges’ relationships with partnering high schools began and how the POS are structured. The Year 2 report described the qualitative theory and method for the study—a combination of case studies (Soy, 1997; Yin, 2009) and “backward mapping” (Elmore, 1980; Recesso, 1999)—and presented preliminary findings from interviews and observations across three “mature” POS sites. To complement these rich descriptions, we are also collecting data on student experiences. The current Year 3 technical report examines students’ perspectives on POS using multiple waves of student survey data. Future reports (Years 4/5) will combine the qualitative and quantitative data to present a coherent picture of how each of the three mature POS sites operates, in order to inform policy and provide models for other POS.

Alfeld, C., & Bhattacharya, S. (2011, July). Mature programs of study: A postsecondary perspective – Year 3 technical report. Louisville, KY: National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, University of Louisville.

Download the report (PDF)