Don’t let your CTE program be your best kept secret! The benefits of a quality CTE program go well beyond the classroom. Data show that students concentrating in CTE courses have better academic performance and higher graduation rates than the general school population. These outcomes ultimately lead to an improved economy, a skilled workforce, and healthy communities—all good reasons to promote CTE enthusiastically.
Knowing how people view CTE is key to developing accurate and timely promotions. Consider starting with a perception survey of students, their families, school staff, and community members to uncover this information. Search for online examples, such as this one, that can help you develop your own survey. Use the data to develop strategies that address misperceptions of CTE and your program area, and engage groups that traditionally have not been involved in CTE.
Students: Students who understand the value of CTE are more likely to participate. Try these strategies to boost participation.
- Use materials that promote value and engage students through multiple touch points. Aim for quality not quantity. Consider: course guides and descriptions, bulletin boards, school announcements, posters, social media, and videos.
- Tailor messages to specific audiences. Establish a calendar to ensure regular and consistent promotion throughout the year. Submit and promote success stories to recognize students and alumni at the state-level and locally.
Families: Family members share their child’s successes with other families, creating a domino effect of support for CTE programming. Use these strategies to promote family involvement.
- Provide regular program updates through a school newsletter, messages in student information management systems, and social media.
- Hold an informational meeting for families to learn about CTE program opportunities for their son/daughter. Choose a time and place that makes it easier for all families to attend.
School: The skills learned in CTE reinforce many academic subjects and can boost a school’s overall performance. When schools strive for a comprehensive and quality CTE program, everyone wins, especially students. These strategies support schoolwide efforts to highlight CTE.
- Work together as a department or across departments to promote CTE in your school. Together you can create a greater level of awareness. Host schoolwide CTE games or a trivia contest.
- Co-teach a lesson with educators from non-CTE content areas. Ask other building experts to work with you to develop good teaching practices for crosscutting concepts, such as communication skills, math, and science.
- Create a campaign. Use school announcements, newsletters, and social media to highlight and promote all CTE areas.
Community: Community organizations, academic institutions, and businesses want to partner with K12 schools to help shape tomorrow’s employees and leaders. Use these strategies to promote CTE within the larger learning and workforce development communities.
- Work with your school’s leadership team for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). This will bring school staff, community members, and industry partners together to determine the skills students need and how to fill gaps in the program.
- Create a one-page fact sheet with student outcomes data, such as course enrollment, number of youth apprenticeships, number of industry-recognized credentials, and dual credit earned. Also, add opportunities for groups to get involved and share it widely.
- Encourage organizations to help create awareness of the CTE program area. Collaborate with community groups to participate in special student events (for example, a career scavenger hunt), speak at events, or share program involvement opportunities with other industry groups they meet with.
Finally, promote CTE as a critical component of a quality education, not as an “extra.” When regularly scheduled promotion of career and technical education program offerings occur, you may be surprised to see how your school’s CTE program offerings flourish!
—Submitted by Christina Patrin, Health Science Education Consultant, Wisconsin HOSA Advisor, Career and Technical Education, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction