CTE at AIR: Preparing Students for College and Career Success

Career and technical education (CTE) is a critical strategy for preparing youth and adults for careers and addressing the skills gap – a disparity between the skills job-seekers offer and the skills that employers need. States and regions, school districts, and individual institutions are creating innovative CTE programs that pave the way for students and adults to successfully enter the 21st century workforce. Nationwide, AIR is supporting organizations large and small to strengthen CTE through rigorous research, evaluation, and technical assistance.

AIR Services in Career and Technical Education

AIR staff are actively engaged in improving career pathways for all learners. We offer expertise in policy, research, and practice associated with high-quality, well integrated CTE and career pathways systems.

  • We support states, districts, and educators by providing rigorous research, evaluation, data analysis, technical assistance, and capacity building related to CTE and the development of career pathways.
  • We provide guidance on the development of industry-specific in-demand pathways, and assist states, districts and schools with using data to support and align CTE systems.
  • We engage with the field to improve recruitment, preparation and professional development of CTE teachers.

Highlights of AIR’s Work

The College and Career Readiness and Success Center at AIR has developed two Career Pathways Modules, Professional Learning Modules (PLM) on career pathways and employability skills. Designing a Career Pathways System: A Framework for State Education Agencies is focused on helping educational leaders develop a rigorous and cohesive career pathway system with four chapters intended to help educators design, implement, and evaluate a career pathways system. Integrating Employability Skills: A Framework for All Educators is a PLM that supports educators in building their knowledge and capacity to integrate and prioritize employability skills at the state and local levels.  

Our Career and Technical Education Early Warning System provides Chicago Public Schools’ programmatic and district staff real-time information in a single location to target interventions to the approximately 20,000 students participating in CTE programs annually.

AIR has published CTE-related research-to-practice briefs, including

AIR is supporting the efforts of Capital Adults Education Regional Consortium, a southern California regional consortium of over 40 partners committed to support creating new pathways in high-demand and high-income careers in advanced technology, engineering, and public service. AIR was contracted to facilitate, develop, and write the professional development plan, including methodology, for improving the alignment of the career pathway services offered through its members.

AIR is partnering with Washington’s Pasco School District to develop a comprehensive CTE Accountability Framework that goes beyond traditional accountability measures to offer other meaningful student success measures. AIR's work with Pasco focuses on evaluating the feasibility of: 

  • Developing a multimetric accountability system and continuous improvement framework that incorporates relevant college and career readiness data
  • Implementing the framework and system throughout the district in a way that considers and meets key stakeholder needs
  • Sustaining the work with a focus on continuous improvement for schools and continuous improvement of the system itself