Six Stories About Six States: Programs of Study

Project Overview

Principal Investigators

Robert Shumer
Research Associate
University of Minnesota

In this qualitative case study project, NRCCTE researchers from the University of Minnesota conducted site visits to six states and local districts within those states to describe the implementation of programs of study (POS)/career pathways during the first half of 2010. The study particularly focused on how POS were developed, and more particularly on how technical assistance was provided to strengthen and improve them.

The project’s case study report describes how the six states were developing POS and focuses on how states’ technical assistance systems evolved and what successes and challenges existed. Researchers sought to identify those elements the states held in common and those that were unique to each state.

Major findings of the study included the power of project-based learning and hands-on, active participation in both classrooms and in the community or workplace to sustain student interest, engagement, and understanding. In study sites, skills and knowledge were also developed and enhanced through instruction that met both academic and workplace competency expectations. Such strategies led to improvements in student achievement outcomes. Districts and states were able to cite data that showed that CTE students were doing well and even outperforming average, non-CTE students in their states. District and state data also showed that students in POS had higher high school graduation rates.

Good collaborations between educators and business and industry stakeholders were especially important to ensuring rigorous academic and career-related POS curricula that would be relevant for the workplace. The successful development of these important instructional materials was considered a byproduct of the cooperative, friendly relationships between education and business.

Special Publications Related to the Six States Study:

Techniques Magazine (January 2012 Programs of Study Issue)