New Study of 1993 Graduates Underscores Importance of Career and Technology Education

January 17, 2001
A unique new study of the education and employment patterns of 1993 graduates of the Montgomery County Public Schools demonstrates that high school students who participated in career and technology education (CTE) performed as well, if not better, in the workplace and college than did other graduates.

The study and related information demonstrate that more graduates would benefit from career and technology skill development. This is consistent with the national trend in which a greater proportion of the American workforce is employed in skilled areas (65 percent last year compared to just 20 percent in 1950).

The study, completed by the Applied Research Unit and the Division of Career and Technology Education, was presented today [Wednesday, January 17] at the first meeting of the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education (MCBRE) at Lockheed Martin headquarters in Bethesda.

The importance of career focus and preparation -- from business education to trade skills -- is underscored in the study's findings that CTE graduates were more continuously employed, had higher earnings, and were more confident about their post-secondary education and career plans than their non-CTE classmates. These findings were true among CTE graduates even when compared to similar background characteristics and post-secondary college and work activities of the non-CTE graduates.

"The preparation of students for college enrollment and success still remains a priority for the school system, but the study demonstrates that the attainment of skills related to 'real life' experiences are increasingly important for all students," said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools, in a report to the Board of Education.

Among the recommended strategies identified in the study are an upgrading of the career education component of high school, including more advanced instruction in business, computer, and technology-related careers, and improved communication with students and parents about workplace realities and opportunities.

Dr. Weast said the study also will be used as a model for further in-depth examination of the post-graduate activities of students, "as we continue to look at high school education in an increasingly more complex and skill-dependent society."

The Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education was founded this year by a coalition of leading Montgomery County employers, each of which has made a long-term commitment to raising academic standards and improving student achievement in Montgomery County Public Schools. The MCBRE also will involve business leaders in developing a system of shared accountability for the county's public schools, including identification of learning outcomes for students and establishment of high standards for schools. The MCBRE also hopes to identify under-serviced areas throughout the school system.

The full study is available as a PDF at the link below.

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