JVER v27n1 - Teacher Preparation/Licensure in Career and Technical Education: A Public Policy Analysis

Volume 27, Number 1

Teacher Preparation/Licensure in Career and Technical Education: A Public Policy Analysis

Richard A. Walter
Kenneth C. Gray
The Pennsylvania State University


Almost a fifth of all credits accumulated by public high school students are in courses categorized as Career and Technical Education (formerly termed vocational education). There are, therefore, well over 100,000 CTE teachers in the nation's middle and high schools. The pre-service preparation and licensure of these teachers is the topic addressed within this article. Specifically addressed are the questions: Are changes in CTE secondary-level teacher licensure requirements and teacher preparation programs necessary? If so, what should they be?

CTE teacher preparation has been a point of contention from the very beginnings of the CTE field ( Lynch, 1997 ). Unhappy with what they perceived as the ruination of manual arts by general educators, industrialists in the early 1900s wanted nothing to do with teachers prepared in colleges, meanwhile educators wanted nothing to do with teachers who were not prepared in college ( Gray, 1989 ). Ultimately a compromise developed whereby agriculture, business education, and home economics teachers were prepared much the same way as other public school educators, namely in full-time baccalaureate teacher preparation programs. However, teachers who taught courses related to trade and industrial (T&I) occupations were recruited from the workplace and typically had little or no formal education beyond high school.

Debate regarding CTE teacher preparation has been reinvigorated by declines in secondary-level CTE enrollments, declines in the number of CTE teacher preparation programs, and shortages of CTE teachers. Equally important is the emergence of public education reform in general, and efforts to improve the quality of teachers in particular, as a "major" political issue at the state and national levels. These developments have led to a significant amount of scholarly writing and debate among CTE teacher professionals ( University Council for Vocational Education [UCVE], 1996 ).


The intent here is not to duplicate previous scholarly work regarding CTE teacher preparation, nor to present an extensive review of this literature, nor an exhaustive account of teacher preparation/licensure. The intent is to use a policy analysis perspective to stimulate debate, and ultimately consensus, that will in turn lead to reform.

Policy analysis requires certain assumptions about the present state of affairs, yet little or nothing can be stated about the specifics of CTE preparation and licensure that is true in every state. Thus, some degree of "generalization" was required for this analysis.

Who are CTE Teachers?

Among the many variables confounding the issue of CTE preservice education, is the thorny issue of who exactly are the teachers under consideration? This is a difficult question and perhaps the main reason why reforming CTE teacher preparation has never progressed far beyond the talking stage.

Roughly 25% of secondary-level teachers are classified as CTE teachers. Of this group, 79% teach in comprehensive high schools, the rest in separate vocational high schools. Within this 25%, however, there is more diversity than commonality ( NCES 1994 ). The Public Secondary School Teacher Survey on Vocational Education identified 11 different types of CTE teachers. Listed in order by the total percentage of all teachers they are (1) business education, 29%; (2) trade and industrial education, 18%; (3) vocational and academic subjects, 12%; (4) technology education/industrial arts, 10%; (5) agriculture education, 8%; (6) family and consumer sciences, 8%; (7) marketing/distributive education, 4%; (8) occupational home economics, 4%; (9) technical/communications education, 3%; (10) health occupations, 3%; and (11) other vocational, 2%.

The fact is that many teachers within these program areas do not view themselves as vocational teachers. Historically, it was not a common mission that united these six programs; rather it was 1917 political realities surrounding the need to gather enough votes to pass Smith Hughes, and later the lure of federal dollars that brought these groups together. It was and is a marriage of convenience. The point being that CTE is not a homogenous profession, rather it is a diverse set of programs with differing missions, making the development of a consensus regarding teacher preparation and licensure extremely difficult.

Differences in CTE Teacher Preparation/Licensure

The majority of CTE programs-business education, technology education, agriculture education, family and consumer sciences, and marketing/distributive education-all use the traditional four-year baccalaureate model similar to those used for elementary, middle school and secondary education teachers. Trade and industrial (T&I) and health occupations education (HOED), on the other hand, typically use an alternative preparation/certification model that stresses work experience and occupational competence over academic credits and degrees earned. On average, T&I and HOED teachers will have nearly twice as much work experience related to their teaching assignment (15 years) as other vocational teachers, (8 years) and three times as much as academic teachers, (6 years) ( NCES, 1994 ).

The diversity of CTE programs thus leads to the question, "What exactly are we attempting to reform?" (1) the traditional baccalaureate model, (2) alternative/ sub-baccalaureate mode, or (3) both? The focus of previous CTE teacher education reform debates has been-implied or otherwise-on replacing the alternative/sub-baccalaureate T&I/HOED model that has required extensive work experience but only a high school diploma. Rejecting this model out of hand, however, no longer seems to be a prudent decision.

The External Policy Context

General Teacher Education Reform Trends and Issues

A beginning step in this policy analysis is a consideration of the contemporary context that will influence the selection of CTE policy alternatives. Indicators of the current importance of the overall issue of teacher preparation, are the 32nd annual Kappan Gallup Poll finding the public believes the best strategy for improving school achievement to be "qualified and competent teachers in every classroom" ( Rose & Gallup, 2000 , p. 44), and that nearly every state has enacted new licensure requirements for public school teachers.

Proficiency testing . By the spring of 2000, 42 states had instituted a set of standardized examination requirements as conditions for teacher licensure. These requirements typically include testing in three areas: pedagogy, subject matter knowledge, and general knowledge. The content of these tests is closely aligned with baccalaureate degree curricula, and the related assumption that candidates will have completed approximately 60 credits of general education.

Subject matter knowledge . Some contend that subject matter knowledge is the only thing necessary to be a good teacher ( Wise & Liebbrand, 2000 ). Of particular importance to this analysis of CTE preparation/licensure is that subject matter expertise is now considered to be very important for all teachers and, therefore, a strong argument for alternative certification routes that do not require formal teacher training ( Hawley, 1992 ).

Minimum grade point average . The third variable that has emerged regarding the alleged poor quality of teachers is the view that those who are accepted into teacher preparation programs are the less capable college students, therefore, resulting in less capable teachers. In an effort to improve the quality of new teachers, policies establishing minimum GPA prerequisites for admission to teacher preparation degree programs were instituted These requirements may well contain some unanticipated consequences for CTE as it is unclear how these regulations will impact those who consider entering the profession via either the baccalaureate or the sub-baccalaureate routes.

Assessment: Performance-based teacher education . Responding to an alleged disconnect between what is taught in college and what teachers need to know to be successful in the classroom, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) announced outcome-based standards called NCATE 2000 ( http://ww.ncate.org. ). Likewise, the National Council on Teaching and America's Future recommended state licensure requirements conform to the outcome-based standards such as those set by the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC).

Professional Standards Board . The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards was created in 1987 to lead the effort to develop professional standards in various subject matter areas including CTE.

The mission of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is to establish high and rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do; to develop and operate a national, voluntary system to assess and certify teachers who meet these standards; and to advance related education reforms for the purpose of improving student learning in American schools. ( http://www.nbpts.org )

By 2000, 29 states had enacted legislation to provide financial incentives for teachers to become nationally certified ( Keller, 2000 ). However, T&I/HOED teachers are largely ineligible since a baccalaureate degree is required for participation.

Teacher shortages . Ironically, while states were busy making teacher licensure more rigorous, increasing school enrollments, teacher retirements, and large numbers exiting the field have produced shortages. It is estimated that the nation will need one million new teachers by 2010 ( Dohm, 2000 ). While technically an ample labor supply of teachers exists, the number of those willing to work in urban/rural areas, and/or for the salaries offered is inadequate. Thus, problems associated with filling teaching positions are overshadowing issues of making new teachers more proficient.

Non-traditional/alternatives/Sub-baccalaureate licensure . Aside from dramatically increasing the potential pool of beginning teachers, some research studies suggest alternative routes are more effective in attracting both men and minorities to teaching ( Olson, 2000 ). "What we are seeing are market forces in action" ( Feistritzer, 2000 , p.1). While some states may have specific alternative teacher licensure legislation, virtually all (48 in 1990) have emergency licensure provisions that allow for circumvention of the traditional requirements ( AASCU, 1995 ). Many have begun to view alternate routes to be of equal, if not more importance than traditional teacher preparation programs ( Kantrowitz & Wingert, 2000 ).

Summary of External Policy Context

General K-12 teacher preparation in 2000 was responding to two primary issues: (1) the perceived need to improve the quality and rigor of teacher preparation as a means of improving schooling, and (2) the need to fill one million teacher vacancies in the next ten years. Classic labor-supply theory suggests that these two goals are incompatible. Nonetheless, policy makers at the turn of this century were diligently in pursuit of both ( Darling-Hammond, 1999 ).

The Internal Policy Context: The Case for Change

CTE educators tend to agree that teacher preparation programs are in need of a reformation. There is, however, considerably less agreement about why CTE preparation should be changed, or how.

State Testing Requirements

Most states have instituted standardized testing requirements for entrance into teacher preparation programs and/or for licensure. CTE teacher candidates often do not score well on these tests, particularly those who enter from business and industry with limited, or no, formal education beyond high school ( Gray & Wang, 1989 ). Some states exempt CTE teachers, while others provide a longer period of time within which to pass the tests. Is it in the best interest of CTE to employ teachers who have not passed state licensure tests, and thus are frequently regarded as "less than" their general education counterparts?

Increased Training Credentials of Technicians

Historically, CTE was designed to prepare youth for the apprenticed trades, particularly in manufacturing and construction, to be family farmers, competent homemakers and businesspersons ( Gray, 1989 ). However, work and our communities have changed dramatically, as have the aspirations of youth. Until relatively recently most of the traditional skilled craft occupations did not require postsecondary study for entry-level positions. Now, however, many of these occupations do require either certifications or associate degrees. Traditional CTE teacher licensure-and therefore teacher preparation programs-are focused on the goal of preparing students for immediate entry-level employment, when in fact, many CTE students now choose to enroll in higher education directly after high school.

Dual Mission: Transition to Work and Postsecondary Education

With the inclusion of Tech Prep in the Carl Perkins Act of 1990, the mission of Career and Technical Education, at least as defined by federal legislation, was expanded to include both preparation for employment and preparation for postsecondary pre-baccalaureate technical education. According to that National Center for Educational Statistics, during the 12-year period of 1982 to 1994, the percentage of vocational majors enrolled in postsecondary study within two years of their graduation date increased from 42% to 55%. During the same period, the number of students who completed both a college preparatory curriculum and a vocational concentration increased from 0.6% to 4.5% ( NCES, 2000 ).

Clustered/Generic Occupational Focus

Many CTE programs, especially those within T&I/HOED, are occupation specific with a student performance goal of mastery of employment related skills. State licensure regulations for the teachers of those programs are correspondingly specific restricting individuals to teaching a single area-automotive mechanics, automotive body repair, carpentry, welding, etc.

An alternative idea is to organize instruction around broadly-based clusters of occupations to provide students with a "breadth" of knowledge in several related fields as opposed to "in-depth" training within a single field. Although this concept was proposed by Maley (1975) as a result of his research during the period of 1965 through 1969, it was never widely adopted. Now, however, the profession seems to be more receptive to clustering for several reasons ( Hoachlander, 1999) . First, the strict distinctions that existed among the traditional crafts have given way to a blurring of the lines, reflecting the need for more versatile technicians. Second, in response to the importance of helping teens develop career direction as a basis for postsecondary planning, ( Gray, 2000 ) many school districts have instituted career majors, or pathways, organized around broad clusters of occupations as part of the high school curricula. Finally, occupational clustering has become a federal priority for CTE.

Work-based Learning

In the 1990s, school sponsored and supervised work-based learning gained in popularity ( Bailey & Hughes, 1999 ); the best indicator being the School-to-Work legislation with its emphasis on learning in the workplace. "In 1997, of those employers who reported hiring front-line workers with prior work-based learning experience (cooperative education, internships, or apprenticeships), most were more satisfied with these new hires than with other newly hired front-line workers aged 18-25" ( NCES, 2000, p. 44 ).

Arguably, the best predictor of success in college is having a verified career interest, thus, a goal. Therefore, CTE students who go on to pre-baccalaureate technical education benefit from having verified their tentative career choice by actually working in the field, and these experiences generally provide the very context for their postsecondary studies ( Gray, 2000 ).

Previously, only those who were candidates for cooperative education, marketing/DE, and agriculture education teacher licensure were trained in initiating and administrating work-based learning. In the future, all CTE teachers need such training.

Integration of Academic with Career and Technical Education

Another federal priority is strengthening the academic skills of CTE students by integrating academic instruction. Attempting to provide clarity missing in the Perkins legislation, researchers at RAND investigated the definition of integration and identified four themes that together define the integration of academic and CTE education: (1) richer, better sequenced curricula that enhance academic and generic skills needed by all workers; (2) facilitative instruction (rather than didactic) that motivates students to learn and provides them with a practical and applied understanding of the world; (3) increased collaboration and coordination among academic and vocational teachers to create a more unified schooling experience; and (4) more attention to the skills and knowledge students need to transition effectively from school to work and college ( Rand Organization, 1994 ).

Surveys of CTE teachers indicate, however, that very little of their time is spent teaching academic skills even though opportunities to do so are frequently presented. Equally important, while 91% of CTE teachers indicated they felt prepared to teach vocational subject matter, only about half felt adequately prepared to teach algebra, and only 29% felt they could teach problem solving using math more advanced than algebra ( NCES, 1994 ).

Students with Special Needs

During the 1960s through the 1980s, increasing access to CTE by special needs students was a federal priority. By the 1990s, the access problem had reversed itself; in many cases, special needs students were now the majority (leading ironically to charges of tracking). "As a result, while 34 percent of the graduating class of 1992 were special education students (disabled, disadvantaged, or LEP), 43 percent of the vocational credits earned by this class were earned by special population students" ( OERI, 1994, p.17 ).

Many CTE teachers do not feel competent to design and implement accommodations for special needs students. Typically, when asked to identify their biggest deficiency, number one is how to deal with special needs students. So consistently does this factor surface, Harvey (1999) recommends that all CTE teachers complete at least 6 semester hours focused upon (1) building an understanding of the classifications, (2) legislation, (3) general modifications/ accommodations, (4) instructional strategies, (5) classroom management, and (6) IEP/IVEP development.

CTE Teacher Shortages

There is a general shortage of CTE teachers. In some programs, such as technology education, the shortage is so severe that it threatens the program of study's very existence-school systems that cannot find CTE teachers often just drop the program ( Weston, 1997 ). While the problem is complex, one conclusion is unavoidable, the predominant system of CTE teacher preparation, based upon full-time baccalaureate study, simply does not have the capacity to meet the demand.

Declining Numbers / Consolidation of CTE Teacher Preparation Programs

Concurrent with the decline in CTE secondary enrollments in the late 1980s, enrollment in CTE teacher preparation programs declined, as did the number of CTE teacher preparation programs. It is estimated that of the 432 institutions that offered CTE teacher licensure programs in the 1980s, there were at least one-third fewer by the 1990s ( Dykman, 1993 ). While many higher education programs were simply eliminated, those that survived were typically downsized ( UCVE, 1996 ). Perhaps the most important effect of this reduction and consolidation is that CTE teacher educators find that they can no longer offer two to five unique preparation programs, and seek to combine them into a single common program of study and a rationale/consensus for doing so.


There are significant reasons for the conclusion that CTE teacher preparation/licensure must change. First, teacher candidates generally struggle to pass state required examinations, especially in pedagogy and general knowledge, without some postsecondary preparation. Second, the traditional labor markets that CTE has focused upon have evolved; many now require some postsecondary education. Third, the expanded instructional content of CTE programs requires teaching advanced academics as well as initiating and supervising work-based learning. Fourth, special needs students often are the majority in CTE classrooms and providing effective instruction for these students requires special training. Finally, the present system of teacher preparation is not meeting the demand for teachers and it is unlikely that models predicated upon full-time undergraduate students alone have the capacity to meet the demand.

Policy Constraints

Public policy options are always limited by constraints; money to implement the policies being the best example. Frequently, the best policy solution is the most expensive and a cheaper solution selected for implementation. Policy planners who ignore relevant constraints often suffer disappointments, if not outright failures.

Multiple Programs

There are at least six different CTE program constituency groups: (1) agriculture, (2) business education, (3) family and consumer sciences, (4) marketing/ distributive education, (5) technology education, and (6) trade and industrial/health occupations. Each has unique state teacher licensure, preparation programs/degrees, as well as professional organizations at the state and national levels. Among the many problems this causes, is the reality that there is no existing mechanism to establish an effective dialog among the six groups.

Lack of Consensus Regarding CTE Mission

The "ideal" teacher preparation/licensure model depends primarily upon the mission to be fulfilled. Is the mission: 1) the transition of students to entry-level employment; 2) the transition of students to postsecondary education; 3) both; or 4) to teach academic concepts to all students? There is no consensus on this issue among the various CTE constituents, as each has a different mission and the same program may have different missions in different high schools.

State Teacher Licensure Regulations

In all states, teaching CTE programs in public secondary-level schools requires licensure, and in a few states at the postsecondary-level as well. These regulations provide the template from which teacher preparation programs are constructed. While higher education faculties have latitude in how to fulfill the requirements, they are powerless to change them; only state legislatures, state boards of education, and/or licensure boards can accomplish that task. One criticism that may be made of much of what has come before regarding reforming CTE teacher preparation, is that the proponents seem to assume that the preparation programs drive licensure. In reality, it is exactly the reverse.

CTE Teacher Shortages

A final, and most formidable constraint facing the reform of CTE teacher preparation/licensure, is the almost universally short supply of CTE teachers. As a result, virtually every state has an emergency teacher licensure provision that allows administrators to hire individuals who have not met the formal teacher preparation requirements. Thus, while teacher licensure continues to become more rigorous nationwide, the number of individuals who enter the profession with emergency licensure is also climbing, and alternatives to formal teacher preparation programs are becoming more numerous. In short, when classrooms do not have teachers, all rules are off.

Policy Variables

Typically, CTE teacher licensure regulations address four issues that become the basic framework of preparation programs: (1) certifying subject matter knowledge; (2) minimum academic credentials; (3) general knowledge; and (4) instructional design and delivery (pedagogy). It can be predicted that a fifth will be added; clinical assessment of actual classroom performance.

Acquiring and Verifying Subject Matter Knowledge

One outcome of the national debates regarding teacher preparation and the quality of teachers is a consensus that the teachers should be subject matter experts in the field(s) they teach. The related variables in CTE preparation/licensure are (1) what subject matter knowledge is necessary, (2) how will candidates acquire it, and (3) how it will be verified?

The baccalaureate model of providing subject matter expertise through course work is the primary CTE teacher preparation methodology, except within the T&I/HOED grouping. There are, however, questions regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of this model based upon three specific factors: (1) teaching CTE occupational knowledge requires unique and expensive facilities; (2) the rate of change in most occupations makes it virtually impossible for CTE faculty to keep their skills current and still fulfill the expectations for promotion and tenure; and (3) attracting individuals with both technical knowledge and academic credentials commensurate with tenure-line faculty status is extremely difficult.

T&I/HOED have historically relied upon related work experience as verification of subject matter knowledge. However, the assumption that years of related work experience are sufficient to insure technical competence is increasingly questionable. According to the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute, 18 states currently require completion of the related Experienced Worker written and performance tests as part of the CTE teacher licensure process as a means of verifying technical competence ( NOCTI, 1999 ).

A more recent option is requiring prospective T&I/HOED teachers to have a related associate degree or technical certificate in the field within which he/she is seeking teacher licensure, in lieu of an examination, and in some cases, of work experience. The advantages are that CTE teacher candidates possess formal technical education in the field, have higher education experiences, are better prepared to develop instruction designed to facilitate transition from secondary to postsecondary technical education, and CTE teacher preparation programs are not required to have occupational instructional labs.

Is Work Experience Necessary?

Lynch (1996) , in his review of the literature for the 1994 National Assessment of Vocational Education , reported that there was little evidence of a relationship between years of occupational experience and teaching effectiveness for experienced teachers, but that a relationship did exist for beginning teachers. Walter (1984) found a correlation between a minimum of two years of related work experience and the attainment of tenure by secondary-level vocational teachers. While occupational experience was not related to student performance, it was correlated with credibility of the teachers in the eyes of their students. A university degree on the other hand, was associated with professionalism, student learning, and longevity in the teaching profession. It is useful to remember, however, that the historical purpose of the occupational experience requirement was not to improve the quality of teaching, rather to insure that those who taught industrial education were subject matter experts.

Thus, the real issue is not "work experience yes or no", rather it is how subject matter expertise is acquired and assessed. Is attempting to teach subject matter expertise through baccalaureate requirements still a viable option for CTE teacher preparation programs? Is a relevant technical certificate, associate degree, or advanced degree sufficient evidence, or is a formal assessment such as the NOCTI Experienced Worker tests still needed? Is some amount of occupational experience still desirable if a candidate has earned the relevant certificates, associate degrees, or advanced degrees?

Academic Credentials

Most states require agriculture, business, family and consumer sciences, marketing/DE, and technology education teachers to have earned at least a bachelor's degree for entrance into the profession. In the majority of states, T&I/HOED teachers need only be high school graduates with relevant work experience and licensure.

Reasons to conclude that high school diplomas and work experience may no longer be sufficient include (1) most states require CTE teachers to pass standardized examinations and success on these exams is highly correlated with postsecondary education experiences, (2) many secondary CTE students enroll in postsecondary education immediately after graduation, which argues for all CTE teachers to have some postsecondary education independent of how they gain subject matter knowledge, (3) the need to teach advanced math and science skills in CTE classrooms suggests that teachers will have completed courses typically associated with admission to, or graduation from, postsecondary degree programs, and (4) the long-standing gulf between academic teachers and CTE teachers who do not have degrees, hinders efforts by secondary-level faculty members to integrate academic and CTE curricula.

Instructional Design and Delivery (Pedagogy)

While subject matter expertise is essential, teachers are not paid to be subject matter experts. Rather, they are paid to promote learning, and if the students do not learn, then the teacher has failed. The policy issue is not whether all CTE teacher candidates need pedagogical training, rather it is how they are to secure it. The prevalent model is classroom-based methods courses followed by practice teaching. However, successes within the movement toward learning center environments, in which students spend more time learning on-the-job by actually working in schools and less time in traditional methods courses, suggests that CTE teacher preparation programs need to consider moving away from exclusive reliance upon traditional classroom-based methods courses. In the extreme, a majority of new teachers in CTE teacher preparation programs may not graduate from their programs at all, making how to provide teacher training to this group the major challenge.

General Knowledge

Many states require a general knowledge test as part of the preparation/licensure process. If CTE teachers must pass these examinations, then teacher preparation programs must include general knowledge courses. Furthermore, whereas teaching related math and science is now an instructional objective in CTE, it becomes important that teachers have advanced math and science skills. The real challenge will be made manifest if states continue to allow CTE teachers to enter the profession via an alternative/sub-baccalaureate route with work experience requirements in lieu of degree requirements, and then mandate that they pass a general knowledge test based upon baccalaureate degree general education requirements.


Citing little relationship between students' grade point averages in colleges of education and their performances in classrooms, many are promoting the assessment of what CTE students and graduates can actually do. Early developments suggest that authentic assessment methodology may well be dictated by state regulations, while a broad outline will be supplied by NCATE to those institutions that are so accredited. It can be predicted that most, if not all, CTE teacher preparation programs will have to develop authentic assessment methods in the future.

What is the Mission of CTE Programs in the Public Schools?

Literature and practice suggest there are at least five variations of the mission of CTE being proposed and/or practiced: (1) traditional, (2) tech prep, (3) traditional combined with tech prep (TTP), (4) education through occupation (ETO), and (5) work/family/community (WFC).


The traditional mission of CTE, excepting perhaps family and consumer sciences and technology education, is preparation for the transition from school to work. The performance objective is to provide students with occupational skills that result in labor-market advantage when competing for non-professional career opportunities. Outcome assessment is based on related job placement, annual earnings, and retention on the job.

Tech Prep (2+2)

Tech Prep is a combined, or articulated, secondary and postsecondary program that leads to an associate degree, or certificate, in at least one field of engineering technology, applied science, mechanical, industrial, or practical arts of trade, agriculture, health or business. Outcomes assessment is based on the transition to postsecondary technical education without remediation, postsecondary graduation, and employment in a technical field as identified in the federal legislation.

Traditional/Tech Prep (TTP)

Whereas both traditional and tech prep are designated by the federal funding legislation as missions of CTE, and whereas many traditional programs have added tech prep components, a prevalent third mission is preparing students entry-level employment and postsecondary technical education. As a result, some students pursue both full-time employment and postsecondary education on a part time basis, often with tuition assistance from their employer.

Education through Occupation (ETO)

Education through employment's ( Grubb, 1997) mission is based upon the concept that when woven together, academic and vocational integration acts as the foundation for education through occupation when (1) broadened occupational content is integrated with, (2) traditional academic subjects using, (3) new institutional structures, and (4) other types of school to work ( Bragg, 1997 ). Performance goals are traditional academic measures though and the outcome goals are only loosely related to employment, seeking instead to generalize the curriculum into a more academic and career exploration mode.

Work/Family/Community/Technology (WFCT)

As outlined by Copa and Plihal (1996) , the purpose of CTE in this model is to "enhance the overall vocational development characteristic of individuals." Overall vocational development is defined as the ability of an individual to integrate work, family, community, and to these three we (not Copa and Plihal) have added technology. The stated mission of the program suggests academic performance goals, higher education without remediation, and retention as the outcome goals.

Which Mission: What Content?

Which of the five CTE missions will prevail in the future? The authors contend that present developments suggest two overarching missions will dominate secondary-level CTE programs in the public schools: (1) a more specific Integrated Model (TTP), and (2) a more general Related Model (ETO/WFCT/TP).

Integrated model of CTE . Some argue that the traditional mission is obsolete since all students go to college. National longitudinal follow-up data suggest otherwise. At least a third of all students do not enter college within two years of high school graduation. Of those who do enter college, 30% drop out during their freshman year. Only about half of those who persist graduate in six years and of those who do not graduate within six years only 10% ever finish a degree (see Gray & Herr, 2000 ). Unless college becomes absolutely free and mandatory, it is unlikely that the percentage of students matriculating directly after high school will increase much more and only time will tell if the graduation rate improves for those who do matriculate.

Career and technical education is an elective in the curriculum of the American high school; courses that students do not select are eliminated. The CTE programs that have experienced the least decline over the last 15 years are within the T&I/HOED grouping, the programs with the strongest traditional ties to employers, occupational skill education, and job placement ( NCES, 2000 ). This suggests that some students and parents value a program that leads to full-time employment after graduation from high school.

The Integrated Model will be prevalent in the future because (1) it is the model funded by federal CTE legislation, (2) many states have invested heavily in traditional T&I/HOED/AG ED facilities, programs, and staffs, (3) this type of education has tremendous face-validity and the support of the general public (Techniques, Sept. 1997), (4) traditional CTE has been effective in keeping teens in high school, (5) while traditional CTE has fallen out of favor among national policy makers, it is still strongly supported at the local level by employers, many of whom are former CTE students, and (6) Integrated Model CTE programs are the prime feeder of secondary students to postsecondary technical education.

Related model of CTE . Clearly, the mission of the Related Model of CTE has already been adopted by some programs, and many if not all of these programs have endorsed the tech prep philosophy as well. Agriculture education, in many states, has already initiated its move into the Related Model by emphasizing its biological and environmental sciences content, and the large numbers of its students who enroll in postsecondary education. For example, as a result of the Reinventing Agricultural Education in Pennsylvania for the Year 2020 initiative funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the new vision is: "Educating people for life through agriculture: food, fiber, and natural resource systems" ( PPDC, 1999, p. 3 ). Many technology education students pursue postsecondary education, and the program was never intended to be occupational training (although at the local level it often has become that). Family and consumer sciences' mission is clearly consistent with that of the Related Model. Indicative, of this general education trend in some CTE programs, New Jersey education department officials ruled in December 2000, that they would accept family and consumer sciences and technology education as components of the visual and performing arts graduation requirements.

Policy Recommendations for CTE Preparation/Licensure Regulations

The philosophy of this analysis is the specifics of CTE teacher preparation/licensure should be dictated by the missions of the programs within which candidates will teach. At the same time, making policy recommendations for all of the possible combinations of the five different missions identified is unrealistic. Therefore, for the purposes of this analysis, the two overarching missions for CTE were identified as: the Integrated Model and the Related Model.

Mission I: Integrated Model of CTE

Occupational/technical knowledge . Whereas, teaching occupational skills is an instructional objective in the Integrated Model, occupational/technical knowledge is required. Therefore, the primary questions are: (1) Where will individuals preparing to teach within the Integrated Model CTE programs learn that body of knowledge? and (2) How will their mastery of that knowledge be assessed?

The three options for acquiring occupational/technical knowledge are (1) on-the-job experience and training, (2) formal degree programs, and (3) a combination of work experience and higher education. Option 3 is recommended for the well being of CTE. Specifically, teacher licensure minimums for the Integrated Model should be established as an associate degree or equivalent in a relevant field, and related work experience of one year or 2000 hours.

Minimum academic credentials . It is recommended that all Integrated Model teachers be required to hold a postsecondary degree at the associate/certificate level for initial certification, and that a bachelors degree be required for permanent certification (most states provide for at least two levels of certification, initial and permanent). With evidence suggesting that a majority of new T&I/HOED teachers have at least an associate degree, requiring a bachelor's degree for permanent licensure is no longer a dramatic change. However, it is only fair that states also insure that associate degree holders can transfer to baccalaureate granting institutions without losing all of the earned credits.

Instructional design and delivery (pedagogy) . State licensure requirements should mandate that candidates for Integrated Model certification master specific competencies in instructional design and delivery prior to their entering the classroom. However, it is not realistic to require completion of an entire formal teacher preparation program. Thus, this training could be course work, or it could be intensive train-the-trainer type seminar(s).

General education . The relevance of general knowledge for Integrated Model teachers hinges on whether or not states have a general education test as part of the CTE teacher licensure/certification requirements. It is recommended that in states that have such tests, Integrated Model teachers not be exempted from the requirement, rather that they either be given a different test that is more workforce specific, or additional time to pass the test if they do not have a four-year degree.

Outcome assessment . Two types of outcome assessments are desirable for the licensure of beginning teachers in Integrated Model programs. The first is an assessment of their subject matter expertise, typically accomplished by either standardized tests or authentic assessment by a review committee of subject matter experts. The second issue is an assessment of candidates' skills as teachers. Whereas some Integrated Model teachers will not have completed a formal teacher preparation program, and thus not done practice teaching, this assessment will have to take place during their first or second year in the classroom.

Mission II: Related Model of CTE

Occupational/technical knowledge . Teaching occupationally specific skills is not an instructional objective within the Related Model, thus extensive occupational/technical knowledge is not necessary. It can be argued, however, that non-teaching work experience is still necessary. Hartley, Bromley, and Cobb (1996) propose, that new CTE teachers have the skills to develop a sequential series of work-based clinical experiences. However, one of the main reasons academic teachers do not use many occupational contexts, let alone clinical experiences, is that they know little about occupations outside of education. Thus, while extensive work experience may not be required, some related occupational experience would seem preferable for Related Model teacher candidates.

Academic credentials, pedagogy, general knowledge, and assessment . The mission of the Related Model is not transition from school to work, rather it is teaching academics, general knowledge of work roles, and preparing students for transition to postsecondary education. Since these goals are similar to those of other secondary subject areas, it would seem that other than requiring some related work experience, state licensure requirements should be similar. This is essentially a status quo recommendation as virtually all CTE teacher state-level licensure requirements, except T&I/HOED, follow the framework required of other secondary-level teachers.

Implications . The primary implication of these recommendations is that there would be only two types of CTE state licensure: Integrated and Related. However, LEA-level program distinctions such as agriculture, business, technology education, etc. will remain. Thus, for this proposal to be viable, the mission of each program must be defined. This could be done at the national-level, state-level, or even the local-level with each district defining the missions of its CTE programs and requiring the relevant certification. There is of course one clear advantage to this process: School officials at all levels will be forced to contemplate and answer the question: What is the mission of CTE in their schools?

Recommendations for CTE Teacher Preparation Reform

Program Content

Training for teaching effectiveness is necessary regardless of mission. As the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) states,

Knowledge of subject matter is not synonymous with knowledge of how to reveal content to students so they might build it into their systems of thinking. Accomplished teachers possess what is sometimes called "pedagogical knowledge." Such understanding is the joint product of wisdom about teaching, learning, students and content. ( NBTS, 2000, Proposition #2, p. 3 )

The starting points for the design of CTE teacher preparation programs are the fundamental requirements for proficient teaching as outlined by MBPTS:

(1) a broad grounding in the liberal arts and sciences; (2) knowledge of the subjects to be taught; (3) knowledge of the skills to be developed; (4) knowledge of the curricular arrangements and materials that organize and embody that content; (5) knowledge of general and subject-specific methods for teaching and for evaluating student learning; (6) knowledge of students and human development; (7) skills in effectively teaching students from racially, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse backgrounds; and (8) skills, capacities and dispositions to employ such knowledge wisely in the interest of students. ( NBPTS, 2000 , Introduction, p. 3)

Regardless of mission, CTE teacher preparation programs should enable graduates to (1) provide student information and experiences that will assist in career development planning and decision-making, (2) model their understanding of appropriate professional and ethical practices, (3) develop programs based on models of effective instructional designs and techniques, (4) integrate academic and technical skills in applied contexts, (5) participate in developing Individualized Education Plans for learners with special needs, revise curricula to align with these plans, and adapt their instructional methods to fulfill the plans, (6) evaluate, select, and use instructional resources and technology, and (7) provide students with multiple clinical experiences including supervised work-based learning.

In addition, CTE teacher preparation for programs within the Integrated Model, should enable graduates to (1) analyze the classroom/laboratory environment and develop a plan to maximize the effectiveness of the instructional program while safeguarding the health and well-being of all, (2) design/deliver instruction within the competency-based methodology, (3) identify and involve relevant stakeholder groups, (4) develop and cultivate business, industry, and community partnerships, (5) implement Tech Prep fundamentals, (6) plan, initiate, and supervise work-based learning, and (7) assist in the post-graduation placement of students.

General Knowledge

Basic literacy is also necessary for all CTE teachers whether the program mission is Integrated or Related. Defining what literacy means is another matter, as is the question of whether the same level or type is needed for both CTE missions.

In Workforce Education: The Basics , Gray and Herr (1998) identify the knowledge base of the field (a requirement for national accreditation) as human capital development theory, labor economics, sociology of work, and career development theory. Also emphasized are professionalism, mission, ethics, human resource development in industry, and workforce development public policy.


Considering the direction of accreditation groups such as NCATE and state licensure requirements, it is clear that outcomes-based assessment is on the horizon. The main implication of this development is likelihood that CTE teacher preparation programs will be required to be involved in the authentic assessment of their graduates' actual performances on-the-job. It is recommended that programs start planning now for involvement.

Organize CTE Teacher Preparation Programs Around Mission Not Program Titles

Those seeking to reform the existing university-based CTE teacher preparation programs should consider a redesign based upon mission rather than occupational content or existing program titles. Two overarching missions have been offered, (1) Integrated Model (TTP), and (2) Related Model (ETO/WFCT/TP).

Develop Alternative Route Licensure Models

Policy makers continue to propose more stringent teacher licensure requirements while school systems cannot find teachers, students do not have permanent teachers, and parents are angry. Thus, pressures mount for policy makers and teacher educators to develop/approve, or just look the other way to, a host of alternative routes. This may well result in the U.S. having both the most rigorous teacher education requirements and the highest percentage of uncertified teachers in the classroom.

Developing alternative teacher preparation routes is critical for CTE because shortages threaten its very existence. When school LEA's are unable to find a teacher for a CTE program there are only two options: (1) hire someone using the emergency/alternative licensure route, or (2) close the program . Just such a scenario led Volk (1997) to predict the total demise of technology education teacher preparation.

The reality is that all CTE teacher preparation programs would be wise to strategize how they can be a component of an alternative teacher licensure model. Our view of the labor-market for CTE teachers suggests that, shortly, those who come through the alternative licensure route could well outnumber those who complete the formal full-time teacher preparation model.

Further Recommendations

Modify State CTE Teacher Licensure Requirements

This analysis suggests that all CTE state-level teacher licensure could be reduced to just two: Integrated and Related. LEA's would be required to have a specific mission statement on file for each CTE program and hire teachers with the appropriate certification.

Of all CTE teacher licensure, the T&I/HOED grouping will require the most change. In general, they tend to be to occupationally specific and inflexible. In some states these regulations actually are a major obstacle to the development of programs based upon occupational clusters. The recommended policy is to eliminate those occupational licensure titles that are based upon obsolete labor-market assumptions and hinder program flexibility to address broad-based occupational clusters. Then, using analysis as a guide, change the licensure specifics as necessary. The desired outcome of this process is the plethora of T&I, HOED, and Occupational Home Economics certificates would be reduced to one- Integrated-with endorsements related, as much as possible, to labor-market data, national skill standards, and the broad cluster definitions currently being developed at the federal level.

Link CTE Licensure/Preparation Reform to Federal Funding

While teacher preparation/licensure requirements have changed dramatically in virtually every state, CTE, especially T&I/HOED, have changed little. In many states, the tactic has been to get exemptions from the various pieces of reform legislation. Thus, ultimately CTE teacher preparation/licensure reform comes down to the question of how to get the states to act . It is recommended that a policy implementation strategy be employed to insure national adoption of CTE teacher preparation/licensure reforms by making it a condition for federal funds.

Develop an Implementation/Phase in Strategy

It is recommended that a program to phase in these recommended changes be developed to provide districts, administrators, and teacher preparation programs with the time needed to make the adjustments. Having such a plan will do much to win support from these important constituents. This is particularly true for CTE administrators who may philosophically support change but cannot find teachers who are able to meet the existing regulations. A phase-in plan will go a long way toward lessening these legitimate concerns.


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RICHARD A. WALTER is Director of the Professional Personnel Development Center for Career and Technical Education, The Pennsylvania State University, 301 Keller Building, University Park, PA 16802. email: raw18@psu.edu

KENNETH C. GRAY is Professor-in-Charge of the Program of Workforce Education and Development, The Pennsylvania State University, 301 Keller Building, University Park, PA 16802. email: gty@psu .