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STEM & CTE Pathways

STEM education initiatives are often viewed as a separate strategy from Career Technical Education (CTE). However, high-quality CTE programs provide a strong foundation and delivery system of STEM competencies and 21st-century skills for a broader range of students. In fact, in states such as Maryland and Oklahoma, CTE does not stand for “Career Technical Education,” rather, “Career Technology Education.” While we see a clear demand for workers in STEM jobs, the STEM skills gap is more about STEM competencies among workers across the entire economy. Incorporating CTE in STEM education initiatives allows for a broader range of students to be exposed to and understand STEM. States, districts, and schools can build their STEM strategies by merging or incorporating their existing CTE programs in a comprehensive STEM plan. Together, STEM and CTE expand opportunities for students to engage in exciting discovery, technical innovation, and high-paying, high-demand careers.

  • Project and problem-based

    Project and Problem based learning are not totally synonymous, but both are at the foundation for STEM education. These learning strategies focus on preparing students for life after school as they address complex challenges and problems in our world.

  • Essential 21st-century skills

    The 4 C's (collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication) are by far the most popular 21st-century skills. The 4 C's are just the beginning. Among other essential skills (a.k.a. employability skills) we like, adaptability, confidence, problem-solving, curiosity, perseverance, active-listening, leadership, self-discipline, and self-regulation.

  • future-proof

    A 2017 report by Dell predicts that future employment will value in-the-moment learning and the ability to gain new knowledge higher than the knowledge people already have. STEM principles and concepts provide students opportunities to learn how to learn.

  • learn by doing

    Doing-based learning is essential in gaining knowledge and skill development. Research finds that 99% of STEM teachers say students learn better by doing. 94.5% of these teachers say that they would have their students do more activities in class if they had more time and resources.

  • Project-Based

    CTE courses bring out opportunities for hands-on and minds-on application and discovery of STEM foundational concepts. The funnest part is designing and then creating solutions to real-world, meaningful problems.

  • Mastery-Based Learning

    Sometimes referred to as competency-based learning, mastery learning provides students opportunities to learn deeply and demonstrate their skills and abilities before moving on to a different concept. CTE gives students a sense of purpose, a high level of confidence in their abilities, and ample opportunities to develop 21st-century skills in authentic contexts.

  • Marketable Skill Development

    Scaffolding and integrating the mastery of skills with additional concepts and skills equips our kids with marketable artifacts and experiences for when they enter the world of work. More and more career opportunities will look for proven skills and abilities more than standardized exam scores.

  • Career Readiness

    In general, CTE experiences from middle school up through high school and beyond provides all students access to high-quality, rigorous career-focused programs that result in attainment of credentials with labor market value.