Growth of CTE Programs Provides Choices for Texas Students

November 11, 2022  

Opportunities to receive skills training, certifications benefit students and Texas workforce

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are the vital bridge between our K-12 education system and our students’ next steps after high school graduation to college, the military, or a career. CTE programs offer an opportunity for the community to guide and support their local schools, forge meaningful and impactful partnerships between businesses, local schools and communities, and help our students leave high school prepared to be successful members of society.


CTE programs are beneficial to every student in a school, including special needs students. Students with disabilities are taking advantage of CTE programs with their participation in CTE increasing 73% from 2008 to 2018. Students with disabilities enrolled in CTE programs are more likely to graduate and meet state proficiency goals. And students eligible for services through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act develop independent living skills, workplace skills, and the people skills essential for their life after high school.

In addition to helping special education students, CTE programs also support school choice in the public education system and are essential to our Texas economy. Two school districts in the DFW Metroplex are changing lives for their students by providing unique learning experiences through CTE programs. Allen ISD’s students who are participating in the culinary arts and financial literacy programs are learning valuable skills that directly relate to their interests or chosen career path. The two particularly successful programs continue to flourish because of a partnership with local community partner Credit Union of Texas (CUTX). The Accounting & Financial Services CTE pathway includes a series of classes, and junior and senior year students are given the opportunity to serve as CUTX interns through the partnership. A CUTX smart branch was built on the campus, and it serves as a fully functioning Credit Union of Texas bank. The bank is open to any staff member and any student in the district, which serves as a great benefit and resource for the community. Students can open their first banking account and experience hands-on learning because the Accounting & Financial Services students are operating and managing the bank branch.

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Allen ISD’s Culinary Arts program partners with CUTX by marketing the CUTX bank at community events. CUTX invested in food trucks the bank uses when they are hosting community events. CUTX leaders realized they needed people to operate the food trucks, and due to the ongoing success of the Culinary Arts program, students needed extra learning opportunities beyond the fully-functioning restaurant operated and managed by students on campus. Students now get the opportunity to run the food trucks at these events. “The partnership between the CUTX Food Truck program and the Culinary Arts program expands culinary learning opportunities to the food truck world by allowing students to utilize CUTX food trucks at community events as a work-based learning opportunity,” said Dr. Daniel Soliz, director of student services and future readiness for Allen ISD. CUTX trains students with the same level of training a CUTX employee would receive when onboarded through the new-hire process, including a full day of training. Students also receive a $1,000 scholarship through the Allen Education Foundation at the end of each year they work in the program. These are just two examples of how Allen ISD is providing its students choices to shape their educational journey and begin their career path before graduating. Another district in the DFW Metroplex emphasizing the importance of school choice through CTE is Dallas ISD. Their CTE department serves over 42,000 students and has more than 240 CTE programs across the district serving 43 high schools and 45 middle schools. There are even some CTE courses offered in 7th and 8th grade that are eligible for high school credit. Janel Humphries, Dallas ISD’s manager of industry partner coordinators, said having CTE courses available in middle school gives students the opportunity to start early on their path and work through a progression to set them up for greater success. “The hope is that they dig into their program of study so that they can have the sequence of courses that ties them directly to a certification pathway,” Humphries said. Dallas ISD also offers choice to their students through a Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH. With 18 designated P-TECH campuses, Dallas ISD gives students the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree at the same time as their high school diploma, along with industry certificates for their chosen career pathway. Dallas ISD is also providing choice to their students by allowing them to pursue CTE courses not available on their home campuses. Three Dallas ISD Career Institutes strategically located in the district serve as a hub for CTE students in each quadrant. The Career Institutes provide training and career programs students can attend away from their home campus. Students attend their zoned school for their core classes and are bussed to the career centers for CTE classes for four hours every other day to gain the training and hands-on experience that will help prepare them for the workforce. Like Allen ISD, Dallas ISD also utilizes partnerships to connect its students with businesses. From large corporations to small private businesses, Dallas ISD has hundreds of business partnerships that provide everything from valuable lessons to internships.  “The experiential learning positions our students to be ahead of the game when they graduate,” Humphries said. “Our goal is that our students don’t just graduate with a high school diploma, but that they graduate with a combination of dual credit hours, in some cases an associate’s degree, and at a minimum, a round of certifications.”


AC Horn Manufacturing partnered with Dallas ISD and saw an immediate impact on its business and the students involved. It led to the president of the company to ask for more students to join the program and earned him the Dallas ISD CTE Champion of the Year for the company’s dedication to help students find and choose their own path, in a needed area of the Texas economy.  “The president of AC Horn Manufacturing approached Dallas ISD CTE two years ago, and he has been so impressed with the skill of the students that he is looking to bring on two to five more students for internships,” Humphries said. “This type of opportunity provides real working experience and is launching students into careers.” CTE programs are giving students a choice in their education and providing opportunities to build a better future for themselves and their communities. Continuing to expand these opportunities to students of all abilities is clearly a good choice for Texans.

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