Report to the Congress of the United States: Program Year 4


The National Research Center for Career and Technical Education operates as a consortium that combines research capacity with associations that represent broad constituencies of career and technical education educators. Four research universities—the University of Louisville, the University of Minnesota, Clemson University, and Cornell University—provide the faculty and staff who carry out most of our research. Our other partners include NOCTI, a leading developer of occupational assessments; the National Institute for Work and Learning, a unit of the FHI 360,1 which focuses on the linkage between education and employment systems; and the Southern Regional Education Board, which administers High Schools that Work, an educational reform initiative that is being implemented in over 1,200 high schools in 31 states. Practitioners are represented by the Association for Career and Technical Education and the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc; now AdvanceCTE). All of these partners are working to address issues of high concern to policymakers as well as to those who have the day-to-day responsibility for the delivery of CTE to young people and adults.

The NRCCTE operates under a cooperative agreement between the University of Louisville and the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) at the U.S. Department of Education. This is the annual report for the fourth year of this agreement, the period August 1, 2010 to July 31, 2011.

Our program of work during Year 4 of the NRCCTE included research, dissemination, professional development, and technical assistance. A main focus of our research has been on programs of study (POS), which were mandated by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-270, Perkins IV). In Year 4, we conducted projects that examined POS from four perspectives. We also conducted research on:

  • Methods to improve the literacy skills of CTE students
  • Enhancement of science instruction in agricultural and health science courses
  • Interventions to promote student success in community colleges

All four universities and FHI 360 are involved in one or more of these projects.

ACTE works with the NRCCTE to disseminate information about our research. We use a variety of media to do so, primarily our website,, as well as web-based videos, podcasts, electronic newsletters, mailings, print publications, and representation at the annual meetings of relevant professional associations.

Our professional development projects are being conducted by NOCTI and SREB. In previous years of the current NRCCTE, NOCTI developed a model to train CTE administrators and teachers in how to use the results from technical assessments to guide program improvement. In Year 4, NOCTI refined that model and began offering training in its implementation. In previous years of its NRCCTE contract, SREB developed a system for assisting individuals who enter teaching without formal teacher preparation—that is, alternatively certified CTE teachers—to learn the skills necessary to plan, deliver, and assess instruction. In Year 4, SREB conducted a pilot test of this professional development system.

Our technical assistance activities are being carried out by NRCCTE staff, Cornell faculty, and FHI 360 in cooperation with the NASDCTEc. These activities include working with states and large school districts to implement scientifically verified, research-based models for enhancing mathematics instruction and literacy strategies in CTE courses and assisting selected states to develop POS that focus on green occupations. During Year 4, several other technical assistance activities related to CTE measurement, accountability, and evaluation, which were consolidated into one project for which the NRCCTE’s Deputy Director serves as principal investigator. Many of the NRCCTE’s research projects are multiyear and longitudinal in nature, and in the sections that follow, we summarize their current status and findings through the end of Year 4. Brief descriptions are also presented of ongoing activities and projects in our other areas of emphasis: dissemination, professional development, and technical assistance.

National Research Center for Career and Technical Education. (2011). Report to the Congress of the United States: Program Year 4, August 1, 2010 to July 31, 2011. Louisville, KY: National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, University of Louisville.

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