Giving Compass' Take:

•  A new study analyzes how well high school courses are preparing students for the majority of industries that make up U.S. jobs. Education officials must soon decide if CTE programs should match the changing economy.

• How can educators better prepare students for the future workforce through CTE programs? Where does experiential learning come into play?

• Read about the strengths and weaknesses of CTE programs. 

Business, marketing, tourism and manufacturing make up more than half of U.S. jobs — but students in high school probably don’t know that.

Only one-quarter of the career and technical education classes students take are focused on these industries, according to a new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C.

The study is a first-of-its-kind look at how career and technical education courses match up with U.S. job opportunities, and because of this, there are as many questions as answers, the report’s authors admit. Still, the findings provide a unique perspective on whether education is living up to the demands of the economy, as well as federal education policy that says CTE courses should prepare students for labor market needs. Nearly 90 percent of high schoolers take at least one CTE course.

While nationally, students aren’t taking many of the CTE courses associated with the most available job opportunities, there is some correlation at the local level. If local employment in arts, audio-visual technology and communications industries increases by 1 percent, the probability of a student taking a related course in high school increases by 14.8 percentage points.

Considering what “alignment” means can be a challenging problem in itself. Should leaders think about connecting high school classes with national or local markets? Should they consider current labor demands or forecast what an industry might need when today’s high schoolers have graduated from postsecondary institutions? The authors encouraged local leaders to do their own analyses as to what their industries and schools need.

Read the full article about CTE classes by Kate Stringer at The 74.