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COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS AND CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION: New Report Outlines Greater Role for CTE in Common Core Implementation

“The common core state standards have the power to transform U.S. education and ensure it is anchored in the goal of graduating all students ready for college and careers,” said Michael Cohen, president of Achieve.

A new report from Achieve urges academic and career and technical education (CTE) leaders at the state and local levels to “break down the silos between their disciplines” and find ways to ensure that the common core state standards “rigorously engage” all students in both academic and CTE courses. The report, Common Core State Standards & Career and Technical Education: Bridging the Divide Between College and Career Readiness, was developed in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium.

“The common core state standards have the power to transform U.S. education and ensure it is anchored in the goal of graduating all students ready for college and careers,” said Michael Cohen, president of Achieve. “The CTE community has a critical role to play in this work. CTE courses not only reinforce and provide real-world context for the new math and [English language arts]/literacy standards, but, if aligned with the common core, can also provide students with multiple opportunities to master and apply college- and career-ready knowledge and skills.”

The report acknowledges that a “substantial gap” exists between (1) the opportunity and need for the CTE community to engage and (2) the CTE community’s current level of involvement in the implementation of the common core state standards. It notes that nearly half of states responding to an Achieve survey said they have no CTE representation on their common core implementation teams.

“Common core state standards implementation presents tremendous opportunity for CTE and academics to better align to improve student career readiness, but too many states and school districts are neglecting this important connection point,” said Janet Bray, executive director of ACTE. “This paper is a key tool that will help guide state and local leaders and improve understanding about how to include CTE in the common core implementation process. Our hope is that all school leaders will follow the good examples provided by these leading states.”

The report offers strategies that state and district leaders can use to better involve the CTE community as they implement common core state standards in English language arts and mathematics. Specifically, it summarizes what state leaders are currently doing to integrate common core state standards and CTE, such as forming cross-disciplinary teams for planning and implementing the standards; enhancing literacy and math strategies within CTE instruction; and fostering CTE and academic teacher collaboration. It also identifies common barriers and challenges that state leaders face.

The report’s findings are based on a survey of state CTE directors and state common core state standards coordinators, as well as in-depth follow-up interviews with eight states (California, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, and Oregon).

“The concept of college and career readiness represents a sea change in the way we think about public education. States leading common core implementation are supporting educators to shift the structure and focus of their schools and classrooms to reflect this change—the standards emphasize problem solving, written communication, and reading comprehension,” said Council of Chief State School Officers Executive Director Gene Wilhoit. “In order to successfully prepare students for college and career in this way, implementation must not be a responsibility relegated to just a few staff within a state, district, or school, but ingrained in the system’s collective goals, across departments, and throughout the state.”

The complete report is available at

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