Research Reports


The NRCCTE’s research focuses on issues of urgency to both the field of CTE and the nation’s higher education system, recovering economy, and evolving labor market, addressing such topics as programs of study (POS)/career pathways, curriculum integration of CTE and academic content knowledge and skills, postsecondary student retention and completion, and professional development for educators in the areas of data use for program improvement and support for alternatively certified CTE educators.

Research Reports

Programs of Study (POS) were the most significant new requirement in the 2006 reauthorization of the federal legislation for career and technical education (CTE). Consequently, the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE) established as one of its priorities the development of information on the operation and effectiveness of POS. The NRCCTE is conducting four projects that examine POS from different perspectives. Three are longitudinal studies; due to the nature of their methodologies, they are at different stages of implementation. 

This study seeks to identify which interventions are most effective in improving retention and academic outcomes for students in postsecondary occupational programs, and how student characteristics mediate and moderate these effects, with the goal of determining what works best for which types of students. Four community colleges are participating in the study. This report presents information on the study purpose, site characteristics, data sources, retention-related interventions found at two or more sites, data analysis methods, and early findings.

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 longitudinal study, in its third of four years as of the time of the writing of this report, is being conducted in the context of the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins legislation (2006), which funds CTE nationwide. The recent reauthorization, known as Perkins IV, modified existing practice by increasing program accountability in the areas of academic achievement, technical skills achievement, and alignment with postsecondary technical education in the form of programs of study (POS)/career pathways. This study estimates the impact of POS on student academic and technical achievement outcomes in high school.

This case study report tells the story of how six states are developing Programs of Study (POS) as mandated by the Perkins IV federal legislation. The report focuses on how states’ technical assistance systems evolved and what successes and challenges existed for states developing POS. Researchers sought to identify those elements they have in common and those that are unique to each state. The report includes profiles of each state, which are located throughout the United States.