Implications of the No Child Left Behind legislation on Career and Technical Education
The passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation in 2001 brought about a multitude of education reform policies for education institutions that made the future of Career and Technical Education's (CTE) role in secondary educations unclear. These mandates forced educational leaders to emphasize student enrollment in tracks that prepare them for post-secondary educational opportunities that require a stronger background in academic courses. The standards-based mandates required by NCLB legislation make promotion of CTE courses more difficult because these courses are primarily elective courses and have caused educational agencies to look at what CTE programs provide in terms of meeting these requirements. The data presented in this research provides an in-depth look at the impact that NCLB had on CTE in Mississippi and how its students fared on state subject area tests (biology, algebra, and language arts) compared to students who did not enroll in CTE programs of study. A trend analysis of CTE student enrollment over the decade of NCLB implementation and adaptation for the state of Mississippi gives insight to the impact that a more specific emphasis on academics had on CTE enrollment. Also, a local school district's biology subject area test score data is used to compare students enrolled in an agriculture program with students who were not enrolled to determine if a difference existed between student performances. Finally, a focus group dialogue with former students of CTE completers and noncompleters in the same district is discussed to determine the effect that participation or nonparticipation had on student postsecondary or career choices. Understanding the influence that an increased focus on academic courses had on CTE programs will enable school leaders and district planners to become better prepared as redesign models and career pathways begin to transform public education in the future. Educational organizations that use this research to embrace and promote CTE should see reductions in class size, dropout rates, and increased attendance, not to mention the performance-driven curriculum that reaches across CTE programs and conceptualizes the goals of CTE and academic programs alike.