Programs of Study: A Cross-Study Examination of Programs in Three States

Project Overview

Principal Investigators

Robert Shumer
Research Associate
University of Minnesota
Sam Stringfield
University of Louisville
Natalie Stipanovic
Assistant Professor
University of Louisville

In order to evaluate the impact of programs of study (POS)/career pathways, the NRCCTE commissioned three longitudinal, field-based studies that focus on efforts being made to implement POS across the country. NRCCTE researchers conducted a cross-site evaluation of these three studies with the goal of exploring lessons learned regarding POS across three sites that were identified as having a high level of POS implementation. During these visits, the study team reviewed each site’s strengths, identified the contributing factors to their development of POS, and examined their implementation of the ten supporting elements of POS identified by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education.

During the study, NRCCTE researchers conducted more than 40 interviews with a variety of school personnel, including CTE and academic teachers, school counselors, CTE and high school administrators, and state directors of CTE. Researchers also conducted interviews with business and community representatives in order to understand the relationships between the schools and local industry.

Study researchers identified six major themes derived from the data gathered: (a) engagement, (b) a strong focus on student learning, (c) certification of knowledge and skills, (d) POS connected secondary and postsecondary systems, (e) POS raised the understanding of and respect for CTE among stakeholders, and (f ) high-quality teachers made a difference in the delivery of programs.

This study offers important knowledge about how POS work and what needs to be done to continue positive trends in program outcomes and operations. It also captured many of the strengths of the programs that contribute to engagement, learning, collaboration, and cooperation. As the renewal of Perkins approaches, the findings from this study may help inform future efforts in the expansion of POS and the creation of an integrated, seamless system of learning engages students in training for work, college, and life.

Special Publications Related to the Cross-Study Project:

Techniques Magazine (January 2012 Programs of Study issue)

International Journal of Educational Reform (Spring 2012 Special Issue)