Strengthening Nebraska’s High-Quality CTE System
From a beginning in the early 1900’s that focused on training young men to return to the farm, CTE has been an important part of education in Nebraska. For over a century, as part of comprehensive high schools and postsecondary institutions, CTE has provided students with necessary academic, technical, and career readiness skills for postsecondary education and employment. But Nebraska and our world continue to evolve. Moving from a reliance on the steam engine to the everyday use of the search engine, rapid changes in artificial intelligence, automation, globalization, shifting demographics, growing student loan debt, and increased emphasis on educational accountability have provided the impetus for strengthening the design and delivery of CTE in Nebraska.
To lead and support the preparation of all Nebraskans for learning, earning, and living.
Nebraska Career & Technical Education will deliver coordinated, relevant learning opportunities that engage each student in high-quality, rigorous education. These opportunities will be enhanced by partnerships with business and industry, workforce, and economic development leaders, allowing learners to turn their passion, talents, and strengths into successful careers and fulfilling lives.
Primary to this vision are four guiding principles. These principles are recognized to provide focus to the work of Nebraska CTE and intended to result in outcomes aligned to the mission and vision. They are foundational to all efforts:
Nebraska CTE champions all schools, colleges, and communities in developing and maintaining a culture that supports learning opportunities for all students, across all backgrounds and circumstances, so that they receive meaningful access to and opportunities for success in high-quality CTE programs and personalized career development. Educational equity allows learners to discover and explore their passions and make meaningful connections within the context of their postsecondary interests.
Nebraska’s CTE system is driven by future economic and workforce demands and created in partnership with the community and engaged stakeholders. All learning is facilitated by knowledgeable experts.
Nebraska CTE will be bold in its approach to creating new solutions for addressing educational and workforce challenges. Co-curricular and expanded learning experiences (e.g. work-based learning, entrepreneurship education, and career and technical student organizations) allow learners to apply, demonstrate, and refine their connected academic, technical, and career readiness skills.
Nebraska CTE works alongside state and local agency, education, and community partners to be proactive, responsive, and adaptive to state and local workforce needs and increase the visibility and coherence of services provided.
In response to the Perkins V areas of emphasis and extensive stakeholder engagement, Nebraska CTE has established the following eight strategic priorities to realize its vision. The goal of these priorities is to build onto and catapult Nebraska’s high-quality CTE system forward to respond to workforce needs, labor market information, and economic development priorities:
The careers we prepare learners for are constantly emerging and changing. CTE programs afford learners the opportunity to explore career options, identify their interests, and develop the knowledge and skills that prepare them to transition to postsecondary education and into entry-level careers. These programs must be well aligned to the next opportunities learners will encounter and keep pace with the constant evolution found in the marketplace.
Career development is the process by which individuals get to know their strengths and interests, learn how different jobs connect with those interests, explore careers in current labor markets, and build career planning and management skills to achieve their goals. There are multiple pathways to rewarding careers, and the components to effective career development include self-awareness, career exploration, and career planning and management.
Nebraska CTE provides an educational environment that integrates core academic and technical preparation for contextualized learning that increases engagement and supports improved academic, technical, and career readiness achievement for all students. Nebraska CTE is responsible for analyzing performance data to assess its effectiveness in achieving statewide progress in CTE, which is measured by core indicators of performance for both secondary and postsecondary education, and providing support for eliminating inequities in student access to and success in high-quality CTE programs of study.
Nebraska CTE will assist educators in making a more formal shift from collecting data to using data to ensure local CTE programs create success for students and employers. The quality and effectiveness of Nebraska CTE is dependent on the ability to constantly evaluate and improve. Through the newly updated reVISION process, all local recipients are required to analyze disaggregated student performance data to identify performance disparities across student groups, detect root causes, and direct resources towards addressing both.
Work-based learning strategies connect learners with employers to prepare them for success in an ever-changing workplace. Work-based learning is a planned program of meaningful experiences related to the career interests of a learner that enable him or her to acquire knowledge and skills in a real or simulated work setting. It requires strong partnerships between schools, colleges, and local employers. Work-based learning is learning through work, not simply learning about work.
Effective Nebraska CTE programs require highly-prepared instructors, administrators, staff, and support personnel who are supported by sustained, high-quality, and relevant professional development. Nebraska CTE professional development includes effective training at both the pre- and in-service levels and the pursuit of advanced credentials and degrees. It additionally supports those who have utilized an alternative pathway to certification and encourages the recruitment of new and diverse CTE teachers, especially in shortage areas.
To deliver effective and relevant CTE programming, there must be an adequate supply of qualified instructors who are knowledgeable in pedagogy and technical areas as well as in academic competencies and workplace requirements essential to their CTE program areas. Innovative and bold strategies must be employed to recruit and retain CTE teachers, especially in those areas with critical teacher shortages.
CTE in the middle grades (5th – 8th) adds relevance to students’ learning experiences by exposing them to real-world options and connecting academics to career and college possibilities. It equips students with needed transferrable skills as they transition to high school and beyond, and serves as a key dropout prevention strategy mitigating challenges such as disengagement and lack of preparation.