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ACTE Releases Paper on How Career, Technical Student Organizations Expand Career Readiness for Students

ALEXANDRIA, Va., July 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) today released "Expanding Career Readiness Through Career and Technical Student Organizations." The paper illustrates how students participating in career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) strengthen their career readiness through co-curricular programming in such areas as leadership development, academic and career development, professional development and community service.

National dialogue has escalated around the concepts of college and career readiness but most of the focus has been on academic skills alone. The paper is part of ACTE's Career Readiness Series, which concentrates on how elements of the CTE system support students' academic, technical and employability skill development. CTSOs provide students with different opportunities to learn all three skill sets, which American business and industry say are necessary in today's workforce.

More than 1.5 million students participate in a CTSO, and research has shown that participating in CTSOs has a definite impact on students' overall career readiness:

  • Students who participate in CTSOs demonstrate higher levels of academic engagement and motivation, civic engagement, career self-efficacy, and employability skills than other students, and the more students participate in CTSO activities, the better the results.
  • In a study of student performance measures, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) high school seniors significantly outperformed their non-FBLA counterparts on four performance measures: ACT scores; SAT scores; GPA; and graduation rate.
  • According to the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, participating in leadership and professional development activities in a CTSO raises students' educational aspirations.
  • Students who participate in school organizations in 10th grade have higher high school grade point average and are more likely to be enrolled in college at 21 than other students.

Students participating in CTSOs learn contextualized academic instruction and have the opportunity to work in settings where the career skills learned in the classroom can be utilized. Each CTSO offers students a chance to explore career-related tasks aligned with state academic standards. By participating in these organizations, students are able to develop leadership, teamwork, creativity and technical skills.

"CTSOs provide students a unique opportunity to explore their career interests and learn the employability and technical skills necessary to be career-ready," said ACTE Executive Director Jan Bray. "Unfortunately, the cut to federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins Act) funding in the FY 2011 budget will impede student CTSO opportunities. In order to keep America's economy moving forward, it's critical that we continue to invest in CTE. We need to increase the number of students graduating from high school and postsecondary institutions that have the education and skills to fill the pipeline of workers business and industry need."

CTSOs encourage students to continue their career-path education and assume personal responsibility for their own career readiness. The U.S. Congress has specifically authorized CTSOs in the Perkins Act, and they operate as national not-for-profit organizations divided into state associations and local school chapters. Funds from the Perkins Act can be used to support local CTSOs.

There are 11 CTSOs recognized by the Department of Education are: Business Professionals of America, DECA, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, Future Business Leaders of America—Phi Beta Lambda, Future Educators Association, Health Occupations Students of America, the National FFA, National Postsecondary Agricultural Student Organization, National Young Farmer Educational Association, SkillsUSA, and Technology Student Association.

To obtain a copy of the paper, please visit ACTE's Web site.

About ACTE

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) is the nation's largest not-for-profit education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. It provides advocacy, public awareness and access to information, professional development and tools that enable members to be successful and effective leaders. Founded in 1926, ACTE has more than 27,000 members including teachers, counselors and administrators at the middle school, high school and postsecondary levels.

SOURCE Association for Career and Technical Education
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