CTE Definitions

Below are definitions and descriptions for the most commonly used terms in CTE.

Organized educational activities that offer a sequence of courses that provides individuals with rigorous academic content and relevant technical knowledge and skills needed to prepare for further education and careers in current or emerging professions.

A career cluster is an organizing structure of career areas with similar skills or common themes based on industry groupings at all educational levels. Sixteen career clusters areas exist within the Nebraska Career Education model.

Six broad groupings of 16 different career cluster areas based on commonalities among clusters.

Proposed Perkins V Definitions: 

Secondary: A secondary student who, in grades 9-12, has earned credit in at least two courses in a single career cluster program at the intermediate or capstone level.

Postsecondary: A postsecondary student who has, in the reporting year, earned twelve (12) credits in a single CTE program OR completed a CTE program if that program encompasses fewer than twelve (12) credits.

Perkins IV Definitions:

Secondary: At the secondary level, a concentrator is defined as a student who completes at least two courses in a single program or program of study.

Postsecondary: A postsecondary student who:

  1. At the postsecondary level, a concentrator is defined as a student who earns 12 credits in a single CTE program or program of study or completes a CTE program if that program encompasses fewer than 12 credits.
  2.  OR
  3. has completed a short-term CTE program sequence of less than 12 semester credits (18 quarter credits) that ultimately results in an industry recognized credential, a certificate, diploma, or degree.

*Note: This does not include non-credit certification programs.

Secondary: A CTE participant is defined as an individual at the secondary level who completes at least one CTE course in a CTE program or program of study. Students may participate in more than one career area.

Postsecondary: At the postsecondary level, a CTE participant who completes at least one CTE course in a CTE program or program of study.

Strengthening Career & Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) affords states and local communities the opportunity to implement a vision for CTE that uniquely supports the range of educational needs of students, encourages exploration through career preparation, and balances those student needs with the current and emerging needs of the economy.

The Performance Indicator framework was developed by the United States Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), in cooperation with the United States Department of Labor and stakeholder organizations to achieve two major objectives:  (1) to create a common reference format to discuss the components of Perkins accountability and, (2) to establish performance measurement approaches for the Performance Indicators. Learn more about these indicators, including goals, outcome performance, and measurement approaches.

Postsecondary CTE generally refers to any CTE programs or courses after high school, including both two- and four-year programs.

A program of study is a sequence of at least three (3) semester-long career education courses in a given career cluster that prepares students for postsecondary education and entry into a career area of personal choice. For more information about Nebraska’s State Model Programs of Study, please visit our Career Education Standards website.

Secondary CTE generally refers to CTE programs in middle and high school.

Special Populations are defined as:

  • individuals with disabilities;
  • individuals from economically disadvantaged families, including low-income youth and adults;
  • individuals preparing for non-traditional fields;
  • single parents, including single pregnant women;
  • out-of-workforce individuals
  • English learners
  • homeless individuals
  • youth who are in, or have aged out of, the foster care system, and
  • youth with parents on active duty in the armed forces

Work-based learning – sustained interactions with industry or community professionals in real workplace settings where possible, but includes simulated environments as well. Under the definition, work-based learning must foster in-depth, first-hand engagement with the tasks required of a given career field and be aligned to curriculum and instruction.

Updated March 3, 2020 9:28am