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Education directives at the federal and state levels focus on providing avenues for initiatives such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. As a career and technical student organization (CTSO), the Technology Student Association (TSA) helps teachers meet criteria for STEM education goals for students. All TSA high school and middle school competitions are aligned with STEM standards, leadership skills, and the U.S. Department of Education's National Career Clusters Framework®.

What is Career and Technical Education (CTE)?

What is CTE (courtesy ACTEonline.org)Career and technical education (CTE) prepares youth for a wide range of high-skill and high-demand careers. ACTEonline.org reports high school students involved in CTE are more engaged, perform better, and graduate at higher rates.

  • Taking one CTE class for every two academic classes minimizes the risk of students dropping out of high school.
  • 91 percent of high school graduates who earned two to three CTE credits enrolled in college.
  • The average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 93 percent, compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 80 percent.

According to careertech.org, about 12.5 million high school and college students are enrolled in CTE across the nation. “CTE prepares these learners for the world of work by introducing them to workplace competencies and makes academic content accessible to students by providing it in a hands-on context.”

History of CTE

“Career and technical education as we know it today has its roots in the founding of the United States. From the start, a strong knowledge base and skill set for citizens were considered important,” reports ACTEonline.org. Learn more about the first 100 years of federal investment in CTE.

Impact of CTE

CTE Improves Student Achievement (Courtesy acteonline.org)

In high school, CTE students are significantly more likely than their non-CTE counterparts to report developing these 21st century skills:

  • problem-solving
  • project completion
  • research
  • math
  • college application
  • work-related
  • communication
  • time management
  • critical thinking 

Mission and Purpose of CTSOs

Did You Know -- CTE Programs (Courtesy ctsos.org)CTSOs enhance student learning through contextual instruction, leadership and personal development, applied learning, and real-world application. They work as an integral component of the classroom curriculum and instruction, building on employability, and career skills and concepts through the application and engagement of students in hands-on demonstrations and real life and/or work experiences through a CTE program.

CTSO Making an Impact (Courtesy ctsos.org)CTSOs help guide students in developing a career path, a program of study—and provide opportunities in gaining the skills and abilities needed to be successful in those careers through CTSO activities, programs, and competitive events. In addition, students have opportunities to hold leadership positions at the local, state, and national levels and attend leadership development conferences to network with other students as well as business and industry partners.

Learn more in the CTSO Reference Guide.

National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations

NCCTSO logoThe National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) is a coalition of national CTSOs serving CTE students and teachers in one or more of the 16 Career Clusters® identified in The National Career Clusters® Framework.

NCC-CTSO Members

NCC-CTSO Affiliates

Additional CTE Resources