CTE InstructionCareer and technical education makes a unique and essential contribution to student learning. CTE is not a single subject area but a group of many distinct programs and courses that develop academic and technical skills in a variety of career areas. While technical skills, as defined in the workplace, are the core; CTE instruction also provides students with opportunities to apply and reinforce core academic content learned in other subjects. A third instructional component, called Life/Career, fosters the development of key behaviors and mindsets critical to career success. All CTE instruction blends these three instructional elements.

Five characteristics of high-quality CTE instruction are:

  • Alignment - The technical skills developed align with the tools and processes currently used in employment.
  • Relevance - Student work is based on real-world problems and projects.
  • Rigor - Students find the work academically challenging, requiring higher level thinking skills.
  • Safety - Students follow established safe procedures to protect themselves and others.
  • Engagement - Students are mentally and emotionally connected to the work and exhibit behaviors that show continued interest in learning.

Following are several instructional tools to assist teachers and leaders in developing high-quality CTE Instruction.

Rigor/Relevance Framework®

The Rigor/Relevance Framework is a tool developed by the International Center for Leadership in Education to examine curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The Rigor/Relevance Framework has four quadrants based on two dimensions of higher standards and student achievement: the Knowledge Taxonomy and the Application Model. The Framework is an easy-to-use model for planning instructional and assessment planning and for conversations on instructional improvement among teachers and administrators.

Read an Interview with Bill Daggett as he talks about Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships on Education Weekly's Blog: Finding Common Ground.

Watch An Introduction to the Rigor/Relevance Framework video with Dick Jones presenting at the Model Schools Conference.

Here is an excellent video explanation of the definition of rigor and relevance and an introduction of the Rigor/Relevance Framework.

Take the Rigor/Relevance Reflection Survey - This is a personal reflection survey on the level of rigor and relevance in your classroom for you to use in working toward Quadrant D learning.

CAREER Instructional Model

The CAREER Instructional Model identifies six instructional elements that are essential to career readiness. CAREER is an acronym based on the first letters of these six elements.

  • Connect with Relevance
  • Assess for Proficiency
  • Reward Creativity and Innovation
  • Engage as Independent Learners
  • Empower with Hope and Confidence
  • Rate Work Habits and Collaboration

Learn more about the CAREER Instructional Model in this video presentation.

Watch the Short Version

Watch the Long Version

For each element in the CAREER Instructional Model, there is an online survey for teachers to reflect on their instructional practices. The surveys are free and take less than 5 minutes to complete. They are meant to serve as a personal assessment tool. After responding to a series of characteristics with the degree to which they are in your practice, you will receive a report that summarizes favorable practices and offers suggestions on how to improve other practices.

This CAREER model and the surveys give teachers a tool that can inspire outstanding instruction and surpass minimum teacher evaluation requirements. Working with these surveys can be a useful way to demonstrate growth in the profession.

For more information about specific research and practices related to the elements in the model, there are books/articles and videos on this resource list.