Secondary Data Analyses


Using data from National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) restricted-use datasets, the NRCCTE performs secondary data analyses on questions of vital import to the field of CTE, including exploring the impact of CTE credit-taking on academic outcomes and dropout risk.

To discuss how the NRCCTE can help you answer key policy and research questions through secondary data analyses, please contact:

Using Data to Define CTE Students and Explore the Impact of CTE - A New Typology

In recent years, CTE has been criticized for ineffectively preparing high school students academically for their postsecondary endeavors and for an apparent lack of success in improving the job readiness of high school students. But just who is a CTE student? How to define who is a CTE student remains debatable in part because of the different, inconsistent ways in which states policymakers and researchers have classified them.

The NRCCTE’s latest work with NCES restricted-use datasets—specifically the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002)—has generated a new typology that allows us to explore and analyze the experience of all high school students who take CTE credits, not just those traditionally considered “vocational” students. Our typology acknowledges that:

  • Academic requirements for all U.S. high school students have greatly increased.
  • Most students participate in CTE, to varying degrees.

Our analyses of ELS:2002 data also show that about 17% of all high school students complete high-intensity CTE in addition to their academic requirements. Although CTE has typically targeted low-income and special populations, our analyses reveal high levels of participation among higher income students and those from other demographics. Our research has also found positive relationships with academic outcomes, such as participation in high-intensity CTE at the same time as enrollment in advanced mathematics and advanced science.

Learn more in these reports and presentations:

Aliaga, O. A., Kotamraju, P., & Stone, J. R. III. (2012, October). A typology for understanding the career and technical education credit-taking experience of high school students. Louisville, KY: National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, University of Louisville.

Aliaga, O. A., & Dickinson, E. (2012, April). Participation in career and technical education in high school: A course-taking perspective. Presentation made at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Vancouver, BC.

Aliaga, O. A., Kotamraju, P., & Dickinson, E. (2011, November). Career and technical education course-taking patterns of high school graduates: Exploring the participation in the most frequent sets of occupational areas. Paper presented at the annual convention of the Association for Career and Technical Education, St. Louis, MO.