Broadening the Path: Design Principles for Middle Grades CTE

Posted on May 31, 2020 • Category: Story



There is widespread agreement that high school is simply too late to begin to expose learners to the variety of high-skill, high-wage and in-demand careers available to them and the foundational skills they will need to be able to access and succeed in those careers. Yet there remains a lack of consensus — or even basic understanding — about what Career Technical Education (CTE) and career readiness more broadly should entail at the middle grades level.

And, with The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) emphasizing career exploration and career development activities in the middle grades and allowing funds to be spent on students as young as fifth grade, the need to understand what high-quality middle grades CTE is – and isn’t – is more important than ever before.

Today, Advance CTE and Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) released Broadening the Path: Design Principles for Middle Grades CTE to support state and local leaders as they work to develop or strengthen middle grades CTE policies, programs and practices. Critically, this resource provides a theory of action for state and local leaders looking to design a new middle grades CTE program or policy or to reflect on and improve upon what is already in place.

Specifically, this paper lays out:

  • Outcomes for student learning that identify what students should gain through participation in middle grades CTE.
  • Ten design principles that must undergird any middle grades CTE program or policy. The principles should serve as a resource to ensure that middle grades CTE is comprehensive and fully meets each learner’s needs.
  • The core programmatic elements of a middle grades CTE program or policy through which the design principles are applied, with relevant questions for consideration to identify strategies or steps for addressing gaps in the implementation of the 10 design principles.

Broadening the Path also includes a design principles self-assessment for state and local leaders to evaluate their current policies and programs.

This resource was created with the support of the Middle Grades CTE Shared Solutions Workgroup, comprised of national, state and local leaders, convened by Advance CTE with support from ACTE and generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

For those interested in leading state examples of middle grades CTE policies and programs, check out Advance CTE’s 2018 report, Expanding Middle School CTE to Promote Lifelong Learner Success.

Download Report

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