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NSBA urges passage of the Strengthening Career & Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

NSBA today issued the following letter to lawmakers in support of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353):

The National School Boards Association (NSBA), representing more than 90,000 local school board members across the nation, working with and through our state associations, supports the “Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act” (H.R. 2353).  We urge the House’s swift passage of this bill.  This bipartisan legislation reflects the concerted effort among our school districts, communities, business and industry, and institutions of higher education to ensure that our students are prepared to succeed in the modern workforce.

H.R. 2353 includes measures to help our school districts and states strengthen both the academic and technical skills of students, particularly with the combination of core academic subjects and integrated career pathways.  As many of our school districts work to expand partnerships to offer students a well- rounded curriculum that addresses both college and career readiness, the need to modernize career and technical education (CTE) as an integral part of the curriculum is a priority for our members. Further, the bill’s focus on building sustainable relationships among community stakeholders, local needs assessments and the continuous alignment of programs of study with the skills that are in demand in each state, region or local economy will help address the nation’s growing skills gap.

NSBA’s Center for Public Education has conducted research, titled Career and Technical Education:  Building New Pathways into the Labor Market, that includes data about career clusters, demographics of students enrolled in CTE, best practices and success stories.  The research findings show that advanced courses with an occupational focus make a difference in student outcomes. While the vast majority of high school graduates do go on to college, some do not, which was the focus of the Center’s "Path Least Taken" series.  One of the major findings of that analysis was the outsized impact CTE coursework had on the future outcomes of the students who did not attend college.  High school graduates who earned at least average grades and a certificate or license in their occupation field achieved comparable, if not better, employment and social outcomes than the average college goer.

The research clearly shows that obtaining a mix of academic knowledge and technical skills developed in high school, plus a professional certificate or license, is key to career readiness for our nation’s students.  H.R. 2353 will help school districts across the country offer programs to students that are aligned with the in-demand jobs in their local communities.

NSBA thanks the Committee on Education and the Workforce for its work to strengthen the capacity and performance of our local career and technical education programs, as well as your leadership to prioritize consideration of this important legislation in the 115th Congress.

Letter (pdf)

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