Educators' Perceptions of Career and Technical Education and Its Effects on Students



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Background: As a result of the" No Child Left Behind Act" of 2002, pressure has increased in the education system to produce advanced academic courses that prepare high school students for college. Many American schools reduced the number of elective requirements and added stringent, high academic educational paths, making students college-ready. This movement has caused many at-risk students to be unsuccessful, lose motivation, become disciplinary problems, drop out of school, and experience the school-to-prison pipeline. At-risk students need the opportunity for career and technical training in middle school and high school for lifelong success to address these issues. Purpose: This study allowed the researcher to explore the phenomena of zero-tolerance, various disciplinary practices, Career and Technical Education, and motivating students to complete high school in a Career and Technical Education Program. Research Question: What are educators' perceptions of Career and Technical Education and its effects on students? Methods: The research design was a case study framework. This narrative research involved collecting the data through an anti-bias assessment, questionnaire, and interviews to explore the CTE educators' lived experiences. The researcher chose five educators with expertise, training, and background in career and technical education. A questionnaire developed by the researcher and administered to the participants reported teacher experience, demographics, class composition, and professional development opportunities. The ADL Anti-Bias School Assessment evaluated the educators' perception of the school’s opposition to discrimination. The information gathered in the researcher's interviews explored the variables of teacher perceptions such as diversity in the school climate, risk factors of students dropping out, instructional strategies, teacher bias, and teachers' awareness of cultural responsiveness. The 45-minute interviews were virtually conducted on Zoom. This data was collected and categorized. The researcher analyzed the participants' responses, critical to qualitative research, read the questionnaire, assessment, and interview transcripts several times, and kept the central question in mind. The collection of data and data analysis was interrelated and often analyzed simultaneously. Information was gathered through recordings, transcription of interview answers, and the careful use of hand-coding. Three phases were used to complete, code, and analyze data. Phase I included a closed-ended questionnaire and survey. Phase II included an open-ended interview. Phase III had a follow-up interview used to clarify and verify data that was already collected. Findings: Four themes emerged from this qualitative research: 1) core academic curriculum is supported in the content of the career and technical program, 2) CTE helps keep students in school, 3) cultural awareness is practiced through a welcoming and inclusive environment, and 4) online learning due to the COVID pandemic has negatively affected the students' access to classroom instruction. Findings indicate that educators and policymakers should develop new pro-CTE policies, continue to expand the curriculum to support core academics, and make available professional development to address and advocate for these issues. Results also suggest that COVID especially impacted CTE, and many educational changes must be explored.



School to Prison Pipeline, Special Education, Culturally Responsive Teaching, Social-Emotional Learning, Soft Skills