How did concentration rates in CTE change at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic?
In spring 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures shocked the U.S. educational system. Because career and technical education (CTE) tends to have more hands-on courses than other programs, CTE students may have experienced more disruption due to the pandemic than other students. In this report, Carly Urban, Celeste Carruthers, Shaun Dougherty, Thomas Goldring, Daniel Kreisman, and Roddy Theobald seek to understand changes in CTE concentration before and just after the COVID-19 pandemic started.
To account for differences in CTE implementation, COVID disruptions, and differences in skill-specific labor markets across states, the report uses administrative data from five states: Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Tennessee, and Washington. The bulk of the analysis tracks three cohorts: ninth graders in the 2014–15 school year (SY), ninth graders in SY 2015–16, and ninth graders in SY 2016–17. The latter cohort was the first to be affected by COVID-19 disruptions. In two states—Michigan and Montana—the available data include one additional cohort who endured COVID disruptions for over a year.
Overall, the findings suggest that CTE concentration rates did not substantively change at the start of pandemic. Further, concentration gaps across race, ethnicity, and gender did not widen at the onset of the pandemic. However, we find suggestive evidence that students with identified disabilities were less likely to concentrate in CTE than students without identified disabilities by spring 2021 in Montana and Michigan. This finding may highlight a group for whom the pandemic was particularly disruptive.
New to this year’s multi-state CTE report is a comparison of CTE concentration across students from schools in rural and urban areas. In Michigan, Montana, and Tennessee, students from rural areas are much more likely to concentrate in CTE than students in urban areas. In Massachusetts, students in urban areas outpace the CTE concentration rates of students in rural areas; in Washington, concentration rates are similar across area. No state saw substantial changes in the gap between rural and urban CTE concentration with the start of the pandemic.
To read more, please download the report below.