How a high school became a national model for CTE education

Arroyo Valley High School faced many of the usual challenges of big public schools in low-income communities. Their rigorous career academies transformed the school – and the students.
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What is CTE education?

Arroyo Valley High School‘s program is called Career Academies. Other schools call these pathway programs, or magnet schools, or vocational education, or career and technical education (CTE). What’s common to these programs is a series of organized classes that expose kids to real-world career options by doing academic and hands-on work that applies to careers in many different arenas, such as the medical field, journalism, business, logistics, engineering, digital media, construction, legal fields, and more.

A few factors help make these programs work really well. For example, at Arroyo Valley High School, the leaders of each career academy are not only great teachers, they are mentors for their students. Research and surveys show that students do better in school when they have a close connection with a teacher or school staff member who knows and understands them. Another key factor is having students’ chosen pathway (or career academy) closely aligned with their core academic courses — including their challenging courses — because it helps students see the real-world application of all that they’re learning in school. Finally, many strong CTE or pathway programs are aligned with dual-enrollment course options and/or give students the opportunity to earn professional certificates that show they’re ready to enter their chosen fields so they may work right away to build a career or so that they can work in their chosen field while they pursue a college degree.

Learn more about successful pathway and CTE programs

Read: Cracking the code on STEM success for black and brown students
Read: How one high school turns career dreams into practical pathways
Read: How high school pathway programs can make dreams come true
Read: High school secrets for success: pathways for all students
Watch: The importance of real-life learning and career pathways
Read: How high school pathway programs help students get on the right track
Read: Vocational and CTE schools

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