Indiana’s career, technical students have higher grad rate

The growing number of Indiana students taking career and technical education courses are graduating from high school at a higher rate than other students and need less remediation than those classmates, new state education figures show.

A report from the state Department of Education shows that 95 percent of students concentrating on career and technical education courses, or CTE, graduate from high school. That compares with a 90 percent graduation rate for all graduates.

The positive graduation numbers come as Gov. Mike Pence and state education officials continue pushing career readiness as a major priority for boosting high school graduates' prospects of landing higher-paying technical jobs.

About 85 percent of Indiana high school graduates with CTE concentrations go on to a two-year or four-year college or postsecondary program, The Journal Gazette reported. And those attending college have a significantly lower rate of remedial math and English courses than other high school graduates.

The new report shows that 9.3 percent of students who graduated with CTE concentrations needed remediation in 2013-14, compared with 23 percent for other graduates.

In Indiana's recent legislative session, Pence lost an effort to change how K-12 schools receive funding for CTE courses. But the state's new two-year budget will spend $24 million annually for investments in career and technical education pathways as well as statewide career and technical education and workforce development initiatives.

Those programs focus on high-wage and high-demand jobs such as those in manufacturing, agriculture and science and technology careers, said Jackie Dowd, Pence's special assistant for career innovation.

"It's all honest work," Dowd said. "We need to elevate it in the minds of students and parents and teachers alike."

Indiana has more than 160 approved career and technical education courses. Those range from advanced manufacturing, accounting and aerospace engineering to welding, veterinary careers and 3-D computer animation.

In the 2012-13 school year, Indiana had 155,021 CTE participants, which means students took at least one course. Of those, about 29,700 were taking more than one course in a particular area of study. Participation rose to 157,000 students in 2013-14, and the latest data are not yet available.

Regional work councils that Pence and the Legislature set up have assessed the needs of industries around the state, which vary from region to region.

"The partnership with business and industry is the strongest it has ever been," said Larry Gerardot, principal at Fort Wayne Community Schools' Career Academy at Anthis Center.

He noted companies are increasingly investing in offering work-based learning opportunities as part of schools' CTE courses.

"The big difference today is the level of the curriculum which matches beginning college-level curriculum as well as industry-based," Gerardot said.

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