How Career and Technical Education Support Special Education Students

February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month, and I recently had the pleasure of attending a daylong professional development training that focused on instructional practices that career and technical education teachers can use in their classrooms that will allow special education students a better opportunity to learn the content.  I was joined by several Chino Valley High School (CVHS) teachers along with our career and technical education director. Attending this training renewed my admiration for teachers and the work that they do.  Trying to teach and address the needs of all students, including gifted and special education students, is quite an accomplishment.

You may be asking yourself why do career and technical education teachers need instruction in how to teach to special education students?  It came as no surprise to me when the instructor pointed out that CTE classes tend to have a higher special education population than other classes.  CTE classes tend to be more hands on and performance based which allows many special education students to excel.  According to the National School Boards Association, special education students that take CTE classes are more likely to graduate high school.  In addition, the achievement gap is significantly reduced between regular education and special education students in CTE courses.

CTE classes have always been important for all Chino Valley students.  At CVHS, we partner with Yavapai College and Mountain Institute to offer a wide variety of CTE classes.  In the CVHS Class of 2021, over 70% of all students completed a career and technical education program.  CTE programs are two-to-four-year programs leading to an industry certification in areas such as aviation, pre-engineering, culinary arts, drafting, automotive, welding, biotechnology, agriculture, electrical line worker, medical professions, and computer network technology.

CTE has become more important for special education students as our special education population has grown over the past several years.  According to the US Department of Education, special education students make up approximately 14% of all students in the United States.  The special education population in Chino Valley has risen to just under 20% for the current school year with much of the increase coming from families with special education students moving into the area from other states.  Chino Valley Schools offers a variety of special education services that service students from 3 to 22 years old.

It is important to note that for all students, whether special or regular education students, CTE can be powerful.  Overall, career and technical education programs have students that achieve higher graduation rates and perform better on state assessments, help deepen community ties, and tend to have more engaged students that behave better in class.  Although the purpose of CTE is to train students in a specific career, many students that complete a CTE program go on to post-secondary education, whether a college or university, and tend to have more success.

For more information about Chino Valley Schools, please visit our website at www.chinovalleyschools.com or check us out on Facebook at @CVSchoolsAZ.

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