Food for Thought Friday: How Do Career and Technical Courses Affect Students?

by Kristie Burk, DASD Coordinator of Blended and Cyber Learning

The daughter of one of my friends attends Downingtown West High School and participates in the Allied Health Science Technology program, which allows twelfth graders to earn classroom and clinical experience in local health care facilities during the school day. Our school district proudly offers our students lots of opportunities for career and technical education while in high school. Unfortunately, there are still people that look down their noses at this type of education, so it was with great interest that I read this study published last April called “Career and Technical Education in High School: Does it Improve Student Outcomes?

Shaun M. Dougherty, an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education, examined over 100,000 student records from the Arkansas Research Center to find out what effect Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses had  on students’ lives after high school. The findings are worth noting:

  • The more CTE courses that students took, the more likely they were to graduate high school and to enroll in college the following year.
  • Students who took CTE courses were just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers.
  • Students who took 3 or more CTE courses were 21% (wow!) more likely to graduate from high school when compared to otherwise identical students.
  • Taking a dual-enrollment course where students earned college credit in high school doubled the likelihood that students would enroll in college after high school.
  • Taking CTE courses increased the probability that students would be employed after high school.

Check out the study for yourself and have a little food for thought this weekend!



  1. This is a fantastic opportunity for students to explore what they might like to pursue as a career. How can you choose a major if you haven’t had any experience in the field? It makes sense that students would graduate more focused on a goal with a clear purpose after having experience in the work setting. Sounds motivating and educational!


  2. My daughter, a proud DASD grad, was part of the Allied Health Program. Laura loved the AHP.
    As part of the program you had to attend school everyday… skipping. As a senior she attended school everyday! Great motivational incentive! Laura is an gainfully employed nurse today!


  3. Allied Health is an amazing program. My daughter did it last year at Paoli Hospital and it has been a game changer for her. She is now at University of Delaware studying nursing with a ton of confidence and real life knowledge. Not only do kids get to figure out what the enjoy, they also get to figure out what they don’t like before heading to college.


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