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The Path of Career and Technical Education in Wisconsin (K-12)

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Since the Carl D. Perkins Act reauthorization in July 2018, states have been focused on what’s new in the legislation and how these changes can be used to positively impact career and technical education (CTE) programs. The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education has been clear that this is a chance for states to be bold! Now is the time for stronger accountability in defining what quality career and technical education is and can be across the nation.

Wisconsin is responding by building on our successes and addressing our biggest challenges. The vision for CTE in Wisconsin is to expand high quality career pathways throughout the state while ensuring that all students have access to high-skill, in-demand pathways. Our biggest challenge—the wide achievement gap between students of color and their peers—calls on us to make equity a major focus for CTE.

In pursuit of our vision, Wisconsin has built momentum from several efforts in recent years.

  • Academic and career planning (ACP) has brought energy and formed the bedrock for career development in K-12 school districts.
  • Technical incentive grants have given school districts an incentive to support CTE programming that leads to industry-recognized certifications.
  • A three-year grant called New Skills for Youth has enabled the development of state-endorsed regional career pathways.
  • Robust data collecting and reporting is making data-driven decisions about CTE possible in Wisconsin.

Alongside support from the legislature and partnering state agencies, these efforts have led to a recommitment to quality CTE. 

This is an exciting time for CTE nationally and here in Wisconsin. As your programs conduct their comprehensive local needs assessments for Perkins V, the focus should be on important key themes, including stakeholder engagement, student performance, special populations, and data-driven decision-making. DPI is here to help. Our Perkins V webpage offers tools and resources that can guide programs on the path to quality.

Our message to you now and into the future is to strive for progress, not perfection.  Build on current successes and focus on the future of quality CTE through the comprehensive local needs assessment and strong collaborative partnerships.

—Submitted by Sharon Wendt, Director, and Sara Baird, Assistant Director, Career and Technical Education Team, Department of Public Instruction