Career and Technical Education is a core component of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s strategy that has positioned it as a national model for success. More than 63,000 Massachusetts students participate in some form of career vocational technical education via the Commonwealth’s high schools, including more than 52,000 in Chapter 74-approved programs. These students access career and technical education programs in 101 separate school districts. Consistent with national trends, CTE concentrators outperform the student body as a whole in graduation (95.2%) and postsecondary enrollment (82%).

Chapter 74 and CTE programs, as well as Innovation Pathways, prepare students to graduate with skills and credentials that will provide them with advanced employment opportunities to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation. They also provide students with learning experiences that enable them to see and understand their future career paths, including continued education.

There are 45 Chapter 74 program areas in 11 Industry clusters. Each program area has a Technical Skills framework, additionally, there are five common frameworks that apply to all programs: Safety & Health, Essential/Employability Skills, Management & Entrepreneurship, & Digital Literacy. 

Signature components of CTE programs include immersive learning time, co-operative education in partnership with local employers, and opportunities to earn high-value industry recognized credentials. The CTE frameworks guide instruction and support program design that ensures students graduate with the skills and learning experiences that best prepare them in their field.

The value of career-focused education is not limited to Massachusetts students, but also extends to the Commonwealth’s business community. Among employers across the spectrum of industries, a singularly acute need is an available workforce. According to the United States Census Bureau, as of March and April 2022, there were two job openings for every one unemployed person in Massachusetts, a ratio more skewed Updating and developing the frameworks on which the Chapter 74 programs are built is a unique opportunity to position the Commonwealth’s career-focused educational programming as not only uniquely valuable to the students who participate in it, but also indispensable to the economic prospects of the communities it serves.

The Frameworks currently in development start with the high-value Industry Recognized Credentials needed by the Commonwealth’s businesses and use a “backward design” approach that aligns classroom and hands-on instruction to the competencies required in the credentials.