Panel Paper: Then and Now: Depicting a Changing National Profile of STEM Career and Technical Education Coursetakers

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Building 3, Room 207 (ITAM)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Michael Gottfried1, Ethan Hutt2 and Jay Plasman1, (1)University of California, Santa Barbara, (2)University of Maryland, College Park

After nearly a century of federal policies focusing on career-related high school coursework, a 2006 policy reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act (Perkins IV) called for increased rigor in STEM-themed career and technical education (CTE) courses. These applied STEM CTE courses look to align hands-on, applied work with the more traditional academic STEM courses and also increase participation for special populations, particularly women and students with disabilities (Dougherty & Lombardi, 2016; Labaree, 1997; Loss, 2012).

Given the timing of two recent NCES datasets before and after the policy reauthorization, in combination with the identified benefits of applied STEM coursework (Author et al., 2014; Author et al., 2016; Bozick & Dalton, 2013; Dougherty, 2016; Sublett, 2016), we have a unique opportunity to explore the changing landscape of applied STEM in secondary schools and observe which students are in position to benefit from these changes.

We found that students in the class of 2013 were more likely to participate in applied STEM coursework. We also found that females and students with disabilities were more likely to participate in applied STEM coursework, though they did not necessarily complete more units of applied STEM.

There are several implications from these findings. First, federal policy efforts to increase access to CTE seem to be succeeding. Second, states should continue to explore options to align local policies with federal policies surrounding CTE. Finally, further policy updates should continue to work to address gaps experienced by underrepresented groups.