Today’s cutting-edge, rigorous and relevant career and technical education (CTE) prepares youth for a wide range of high-wage, high-skill, high-demand careers.

CTE curriculum frameworks align Minnesota academic standards with national curriculum standards and nationally recognized occupational skill standards that incorporate academic concepts into CTE instruction, according to the state CTE plan. In addition, in 2007, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law allowing high school students to meet academic requirements in science, mathematics and the arts through CTE programs.

High-quality career and technical education (CTE) can help more students persist in and complete high school, preparing them for the postsecondary education and training that will be critical to future economic successes.


  • core academic skills and the ability to apply those skills to concrete situations in order to function in the workplace and in routine daily activities

  • employability skills (such as critical thinking and responsibility) that are essential in any career area

  •  job-specific, technical skills related to a specific career pathway

Within CTE, occupations and career specialties are grouped into Career Clusters. Each of the 16 clusters is based on a set of common knowledge and skills that prepare learners for a full range of opportunities.

Further specialization is achieved through comprehensive Programs of Study, which align academic and technical content in a coordinated, non-duplicative sequence of secondary and postsecondary courses, and lead to an industry-recognized credential or certificate at the postsecondary level or an associate or baccalaureate degree.

Career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) are an integral part of CTE. CTSOs prepare young people to become productive citizens and leaders in their communities by providing unique programs of career and leadership development, motivation, and recognition for students enrolled, or previously enrolled, in CTE programs.


A ratio of one CTE class for every two academic classes minimizes the risk of students dropping out of high school. (Plank et al., Dropping Out of High School and the Place of Career and Technical Education, 2005)

The more students participate in CTSO activities, the higher their academic motivation, academic engagement, grades, career self-efficacy, college aspirations and employability skills. (Alfeld et al., Looking Inside the Black Box: The Value Added by Career and Technical Student Organizations to Students’ High School Experience, 2007)

Students at schools with highly integrated rigorous academic and CTE programs have significantly higher achievement in reading, mathematics and science than do students at schools with less integrated programs. (Southern Regional Education Board, Linking Career/Technical Studies to Broader High School Reform, 2004)

CTE students are significantly more likely than their non-CTE counterparts to report that they developed problem-solving, project completion, research, math, college application, work-related, communication, time management, and critical thinking skills during high school. (Lekes et al., Career and Technical Education Pathway Programs, Academic Performance, and the Transition to College and Career, 2007)

A person with a CTE-related associate degree or credential will earn an average of at least $4,000 more a year than a person with a humanities associate degree—and those with credentials in high-demand fields such as healthcare can average almost $20,000 more a year. (Jacobson et al., Pathways to Boosting the Earnings of Low-Income Students by Increasing Their Educational Attainment, 2009)