New Designs for Career and Technical Education at the Secondary and Postsecondary Levels: Design Guide for Policy and Practice
The purpose of New Designs for Career and Technical Education at the Secondary and Postsecondary Levels was to develop new directions for career and technical education at the secondary and postsecondary levels in the United States. For this project, “new” designs means based on a coherent synthesis of the latest research, relevant policies, exemplary practices, and leading thinking on career and technical education (CTE) at the secondary and postsecondary levels. Building upon work accomplished through two earlier projects funded under the National Center for Research in Vocational Education at the University of California, Berkeley, New Designs for the Comprehensive High School (Copa & Pease, 1992), and New Designs for Learning: K–12 Schools (Copa, 1999), and New Designs for the Two-Year Institution of Higher Education (Copa & Ammentorp, 1998), this project identified design elements and specific recommended features to be considered in the design of CTE programs.
The research project was conducted under the auspices of the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, University of Minnesota, with funding through the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC. George H. Copa, Professor in the School of Education, Oregon State University, was Project Director, and Susan J. Wolff, was Project Coordinator. The project was funded for 2000, 2001, and the first half of 2002. The two products of the project are Design Guide for Policy and Practice and Compendium of Design Review of Related Research, Policies, and Exemplary Practices. The Compendium of Design Reviews is available at: http://newdesigns.orst.edu.
The research project addressed the mission, values, vision, goals, and performance indicators for career and technical education, as well as 12 aspects of its operation, including learning context, audience, signature, expectations, process, organization, partnerships, staffing, environment, accountability, celebration, and finance. The resulting recommendations are based on a review of related research, policies, and exemplary practices, and extensive discussion and review by leaders in the practice of career and technical education at the secondary and postsecondary levels of education across the United States.
The project intended to capture and communicate the collective voice of leadership in career and technical education at the secondary and postsecondary levels regarding future direction for the field. Both leaders in policy and practice and researchers were actively involved in the design process. A 13-member National Design Group, with the purpose of advising the Project Director and Coordinator, was appointed from among state leaders in Career and Technical Education; counselors, teachers, and administrators; CTE teacher educators and researchers; and business and industry. The members are listed in Appendix II. To seek further professional peer review of the work done by the Project Staff and the National Design Group, four National Design Studio workshops were held—two in the fall of 2000 and two in the fall of 2001. These additional 100 leaders in CTE reviewed and extended the design recommendations emanating from the project. Participants in the National Design Studios workshops are listed at: http://newdesigns.orst.edu. Additional steps to the research included visits to exemplary sites (secondary, postsecondary, or combined, at each of the locations where the National Design Group met or where the National Design Studios were held) and presentations from agencies regarding exemplary practices. The sites visited and agency presentations are listed at: http://newdesigns.orst.edu.
What Is New About New Designs?
This project makes new contributions to the directions career and technical education should take in the United States in several ways: (a) the design features are the result of simultaneous consideration of both secondary and postsecondary levels of career and technical education; (b) the design features form a coherent systems perspective of career and technical education that is comprehensive, internally consistent, and aligned; (c) the design features result from a current review of research, policies, exemplary practices, and leading thinking; (d) the design features emanate from extensive dialogue among those involved and concerned about career and technical education; and (e) the design features respond to the context that career and technical education in the United States is a diverse and loosely connected enterprise—they are set forth as desired features and not as “one model fits all.” The design recommendations include a design process that can be applied locally in individual high schools and community/technical colleges across the country. The process offers the recommended design features as a flexible model, allowing for customization by the stakeholders involved at a particular setting, who are assumed to be highly motivated to improve career and technical education and the services it provides to local youth and adults, organizations, and communities.
Copa, G. H., & Wolff, S. J. (2002). New designs for career and technical education at the secondary and postsecondary levels: Design guide for policy and practice. St. Paul, MN: National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, University of Minnesota.