Earning A Bachelors Degree Education Essay

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INTRODUCTION

In today's society, earning a bachelor's degree is the goal of majority high school students, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, or poverty levels (Payne, 2006). The percentage of high school sophomores who say they expect to earn a bachelor's degree or higher have nearly doubled over the last two decades, from 41% in 1980 to nearly 79% in 2002, with the largest increases occurring among American Indian, Alaskan Native, Hispanic, and low-income students. Another 11% of sophomores in 2002 reported that they expected to earn an Associate's degree or postsecondary certificate (National Center for Education Statistics, 2006). Interestingly, Rebell (2007) believes that high school students set goals and ambitions for themselves; however, some urban schools do not provide access for academic preparation, guidance, and support that is needed for students to reach their goals.

Statement of the Problem

One of the major concerns of educators and politicians alike is the high school dropout rate. An area of concern is finding ways to keep students in school allowing the students to become successful productive members of society. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that during the 2006-2007 school year, 4.4 percent of ninth to twelfth grade students dropped out of high school. In the State of Maryland, 3.8 percent of students dropped out during the 2006-2007 school year (Swanson, 2009). During the 2006-2007 school year, the dropout rate was 2.42 percent (Swanson, 2009).

"Each class of dropouts is responsible for substantial financial and social costs to the communities, states, and country in which they live"(Alliance for Education, 2009). Approximately 1.2 million students fail to graduate from high school, and more than half are from minority groups. Only sixty-nine percent of students graduate within four years. High school dropouts struggle to find job, and when they do find jobs they earn very low salaries. High school dropouts often depend on public assistance, may have health problems, and are more likely to engage in criminal activity. (Alliance for Education, 2009)

In order to keep students from dropping out of high school, school districts need to find ways to keep students motivated and interested in learning. Today, Career and Technology programs have emerged in many schools with the hopes that participating in such programs will lessen the dropout rate, however many school systems are opting not to offer these programs and courses.

Career and Technology Education, formerly known as Vocational Education, has been under the radar since the early 1980's, although Vo-Tech Education had been in existence since colonial times with apprenticeship programs. Today, school systems that incorporate career and technology programs in their school systems see a rise in student achievement. Students learn through rigorous learning and real world application. Students are actively involved and understand the benefits of the CTE program in their lives.

One significant reason students drop out of school is that they lose interest and motivation in education because the curriculum does not seem to have a real world application (Bridgeland, Dilulio, & Morrison, 2006). A poll by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc. of at-risk California ninth and tenth graders found that six in ten respondents were not motivated to succeed in school. Of those students, more than ninety percent said they would be more engaged in their education if classes helped them acquire skills and knowledge relevant to future careers. In the 2006 High School Survey of Student Engagement, twenty four percent of students who have considered dropping out of high school cited the reason, "no adults in the school cared about me; mentoring." Mentoring and providing positive relationships with adults in the school and community are hallmarks of quality Career and Technology Education programs.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship of participation in career and technology education programs in Maryland on graduation rates, which will inevitably lower the dropout rates. This study will show that there is no statistical difference in the graduation rates of students in Career and Technology programs and students in general education programs. The significance level is set at .05.

Career and Technology Education programs in the State of Maryland give students a head start on college and careers in high-skill, high-wage and high-demand occupations organized in ten different Career Clusters including programs in Information Technology, Finance, Construction Trades, Homeland Security, Health Professions, Pre-engineering and more (www.marylandpublicschools.org, 2007). One of the answers to finding ways to increase the graduation rates in our schools is incorporating Career and Technology Education in the school systems. If we utilize these programs in our high schools the dropout rate will decrease.

The reality is that all students are not college ready students. Christopher Swanson of the Urban Institute says, "There is a real gap between the aspirations teenagers have and the realities of what happens to them. Teenagers grow up hearing these 'college for all' expectations, and they internalize this. While rhetorically it makes sense, in reality all students are not going to go to college" (Toppo, 2006). Having Career and Technology Programs in school systems not only improves student's attendance, but also improves test scores and the graduation rates.

The research for this study is to identify whether or not Career and Technology Education is beneficial to students and the school systems. Due to the failing economy and the emphasis to satisfy federal mandates stressing test scores in reading and math, programs have been cut throughout our educational systems. This study will determine whether or not Career and Technology Education programs impacts student achievement and should be kept in our public schools.

Need of Study

Every student in our school systems does not aspire to be an English, Math or Science major and every student in our systems is not college ready, however we as educators can make them career ready. There are some students who are interested in other areas of the career sectors in the United States, middle school and high schools need to prepare our students for post secondary education or careers. If Career and Technology programs are in our schools students will work harder because they have an interest in learning and will be motivated to complete high school because they are aware that they are working toward their future. Due to some new initiatives in various counties of Maryland and budget cuts, it is important to understand the relationship between Career and Technology Programs and graduation rates, as well as student achievement. These programs have prepare students for careers that require different levels of education and provides them opportunities to earn industry credentials as well as college credits.

Design of Study

Population

Participants were selected from a population of 2,779 students enrolled in a local high school located in the central part of Prince George's County. Fifty one percent of those students are males and forty nine percent are females. The students range in age from fourteen to nineteen years old. There are five ethnicity subgroups at this high school. Ninety three percent of the students were African American, two percent are Hispanic and Caucasian, and the remaining three percent are American Indian or Asian/Pacific. Students attend this high school from various areas of central Prince George's County. The social economic status fluctuates from in each area.

Sample

There were multiple participants in this study. The first two groups of participants (Group A & B) in this study are students who have graduated, within the past two years. A third group (Group C) is students who are in the twelfth grade during this present school year. Seventy-five participants will be randomly selected. The participants at the time of the transcripts being recorded are between the ages of 17-18. The ethnicity varies, however a majority of the participants are African-American based on the overall population of students in the school.

Procedures & Techniques

Group A & B consists of students who have previously graduated from the high school. I met with the guidance counselor chairperson to receive a list of all the graduates from the high school within the two previous school years. From there I randomly selected one hundred students names by using an Excel program on a computer located in the school library. Once I gathered the information, I determine who is enrolled in a CTE program and who was enrolled in general education program based on their official transcript. I ranked the students based on their overall GPA and the number of students in their graduating class.

Group C consist of students of students within the school, all in the twelfth grade. I met with the guidance counselor chairperson and receive a list of all students. From there, I randomly selected one hundred students' names through an Excel program on a computer located in the she school library, different from the computer I used to randomly select Group A. Once I gathered the information, I ranked the student based on their overall GPA.

Instrumentation

Grade point averages were collected based on students grades utilizing a four point scale. The grades are based on grades that are submitted by each teacher per quarter, based on class work, homework, and assessment grades in the class. The grades of all of the participant's classes are given a point system. The grade of an "A" equals four points; the grade of a "B" equals three points; the grade of a "C" equals two points; the grade of a "D" equals one point; and the grade of an "E" equals zero points. There will be a difference of collecting data from transcripts of students who were currently enrolled in the twelfth grade. Students currently in the twelfth grade no longer receive letter grades but receive numerical grades. There is a question of accuracy of the grades, due to teacher's giving grades to students not based on student performance.

Data Analysis

I use the t-test in order to test the significance of the null hypotheses in this study. The t-test was used to analyze the grade point averages of students who are in the CTE programs and those who are not enrolled in the programs in order to determine who ranks better or worse and the impact on graduating within a four year period.

Limitations of the Study

There are some limitations of this study. The data was unclear to whether or not the students took a CTE course and then opted out of the program. The data submitted only showed whether or not a student was enrolled in a CTE courses program. Some students who were not in a specific program may in fact have taken CTE courses. It is also unclear, on the rationale of how students received their grades, for example, the weight of the overall grade, what was added into the grades, and if teachers fairly graded the students. Lastly, the reasoning behind students not graduating, it is unclear why a student did not graduate or withdrew from the school. Lastly, the study only goes by the current GPA of a students in Group C during his or her 3rd quarter because the student has not completed his/her senior year. Another point to be considered is that overall GPA's were used in the research and students who have a 1.0 or lower overall may have graduated. There was also a change in administration between the three years, as well, as program cuts.

Definition of Terms/Variables

Career and Technology Education (CTE) - vocational education and training (VET), also called career and technical education (CTE), prepares trainees for jobs that are based on manual or practical activities, traditionally non-academic, and totally related to a specific trade, occupation, or vocation. It is sometimes referred to as technical education as the trainee directly develops expertise in a particular group of techniques or technology.

Career Academy - model for delivering CTE content in high schools combining academic and career coursework into a career theme and utilizing partnerships with local employers

Career Pathways - framework for connecting a series of educational programs with integrated work experience and support services

Grade Point Average (GPA) - a measure of a student's academic achievement at a college or university; calculated by dividing the total number of grade points received by the total number attempted

High School Assessment (HSA) Testing - standardized testing used in the State of Maryland to determine whether or not a student will graduate.

Dependent variable - Grade Point Average

Independent variable - students enrolled in Career and Technology programs

Significance of the Study

This study is extremely significant in education and for the advancement of Career and Technology education (CTE) programs. This study will determine whether or not funds should be budgeted to have these programs and even employing more people in these industries as teachers. A lot of school systems are doing away with CTE courses because it seems that they are not preparing students for the standardize tests. It should be the goal of the schools to prepare the students for these standardize test, in conjunction with preparing them to become college and/or career ready. This study will also show the achievement level of students who are enrolled in CTE programs, with the hopes that more school systems will visit this when looking for ways to improve student achievement and graduation rates.

CHAPTER II

SURVEY OF THE RELATED LITERATURE

Career and Technology Education prepares students as trainees for jobs that are based on manual or practical activities, traditionally non-academic, and totally related to a specific trade, occupation, or vocation. It is sometimes referred to as technical education as the trainee directly develops expertise in a particular group of techniques or technology. Within these programs are career pathways. Career pathways are systemic frameworks for a new way of doing business in our high schools. Career pathways are a framework for connecting a series of educational programs with integrated work experience and support services, thereby enabling students and workers to combine school and work and advance over time to better jobs and higher levels of education and training. The goal of these pathways within the CTE program is to explore various careers and connect skills with core academic subjects. (www.marylandpublicshools.org, 2007)

A number of benefits are expected from developing career pathways including reduced high school drop‐out rates, increased aspirations among students, increased college‐going, improved transitions to workforce and postsecondary education, reduced remediation, and increased efficiency of students progressing through postsecondary education (Moore, Offenstein, & Shulock, 2009).

Research using data from national surveys has found that not many students concentrate in both academic courses to prepare for college and occupational courses to prepare for a career. One study found that among three different graduating classes, .6%, 2.8%, and 4.5% of students completed both a college preparatory curriculum and a concentration in one vocational area in high school. (Hudson & Hunt, 1999) A second study estimated that 6% of students concentrate in both academic and CTE coursework (Plank, 2001). This study also found that dual concentrators performed nearly as well as academic concentrators on tests of academic achievement in math, science, reading, and history. The better performance of academic concentrators may have been in part due to a greater number of units they completed in higher‐level math and science courses. Because of the additional CTE coursework, CTE concentrators may have had less time available to take as many high‐level math and science courses. Although dual concentrators' performance was slightly lower than academic concentrators on achievement tests, Plank found that taking a mix of CTE and academic courses was related to a lower probability of dropping out. The optimal ratio was taking three units of CTE for every four units of academic coursework, with both smaller and larger ratios associated with a greater probability of dropping out (Moore Offenstein, & Shulock, 2009).

The career academy is a model for delivering CTE content in high schools. The academies are typically organized as a school‐within‐a‐school, combining academic and career coursework into a career theme 5 (e.g., construction, healthcare) and utilizing partnerships with local employers (Kemple, 2001). Research suggests that career academies may lead to better outcomes for students than other forms of education. An evaluation of career academies that randomly assigned academy applicants to participate in career academies or to enroll in any other high school program found that career academy students had higher levels of school engagement, greater participation in career awareness and work‐related learning activities, and lower drop‐out rates (Kemple, 2001). Although the study found small or negligible impacts on high school graduation, enrollment in postsecondary education, and employment when participants were compared to the non‐academy control group, the non‐academy control group performed better on these outcomes than a similar group of students nationally. This suggests that students who applied to the career academies and were assigned to the control group may have been atypically high performers, and that the effectiveness of career academies may be greater than the findings of the evaluation study indicate. A study of high school applicants to a comprehensive university did find some positive associations between career academy participation and postsecondary outcomes (Maxwell, 2001). After controlling for demographic characteristics, high school GPA, and high school attended, the study found that students who participated in career academies had a lower need for remediation in college and were more likely to graduate from college.

The research literature suggests that CTE can improve outcomes for high school students. High school students who take CTE courses have better employment outcomes and feel more certain about their career direction. CTE can also lead to comparable or improved postsecondary outcomes as long as academic coursework is not sacrificed (Moore, Offenstein, & Shulock, 2009).

Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 was used to examine the association between the CTE to academic-course taking ration and the likelihood of drooping out. This study used transcript and survey data and found a highly significant curvilinear effect of the course taking ratio on the likelihood of dropping out for youth who were less than 15 years old. It was noted in the study that there were other factors that did predict their high rates of dropping out. (Stone, 2002)

Stone (2004) has identified several program techniques that keep students in school: career guidance, work-based learning, career pathways, and tech prep. Career guidance is an important element in keeping students in school. Bauer & Michael (1993) found that a guidance model using career interest inventories and job readiness training can increase at-risk student school engagement 35%. Work-based learning provides the opportunity to connect school with the real world. Examples of work-based learning are: cooperative education, school-based enterprises, internships and apprenticeships, job shadowing, and mentoring. Kemple and Snipes (2000) found that enrollment in a career academy significantly decreased the dropout rate of at-risk students. Tech prep is similar to career pathways, but it is directly connected to postsecondary education. Tech prep usually consists of the last two years of high school and two years of community college. Programs typically lead to an associate's degree or licensure.

Dropping Out of High School and the Place of Career and Technical Education, an October 2005 report by the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, found that students who entered high school at a normal or younger age had a decreased risk of dropping out of high school as they added CTE courses to their curriculum, up to a point at which they were taking one CTE course for every two academic courses. The report suggests that this mix of CTE and academic courses lowers the dropout rate for students because the course balance offers them a broader array of experiences that can identify and encourage pathways to success. (Plank 2005)

Another study conducted in 1998 by the University of Michigan found that high-risk students are eight to 10 times less likely to drop out in the 11th and 12th grades if they enroll in a career and technical program instead of a general program. The same study also reported that a quality CTE program can reduce a school's dropout rate by as much as six percent, and that CTE students are less likely than general-track students to fail a course or to be absent. (Kulik, 1998)

The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts conduct a survey on people age 16-25 in 25 different locations throughout the United States on the reasons students give for dropping out of high school. Twenty-seven percent said they dropped out because of personal reason, forty-seven percents said their classes were not interesting. These statistics are a given fact that we must provide courses and programs that make students interested and provide meaningful instruction to keep students in high school. (Bridgeland, Dilulio, & Morrison, 2006)

In the article, Career & Technical Education and School-To-Work at the end of the 20th Century: Participation and Outcomes, Aliaga and Stone researched whether school to work activities have extended beyond their traditional CTE curricular base and have become part of the high school experience for all youth. They also looked at certain characteristics of students and instruction for example, their background characteristics and curriculum concentration, course taking patterns, and high school GPA. They found that CTE concentrators increase academic rigor, improve GPA's and high school completion. (Stone & Aliaga, 2002)

McKinney, Steglich, and Stever-Zeiltlin (2002) explain the success of smaller learning communities in large urban school districts. Minneapolis, Chicago and Boston are the highlighted cities which have seen tremendous academic gains with the implementation of smaller learning communities. McKinney, et al. (2002) believes in small settings, children particularly those who are underperforming learn more, behave better, and are less likely to drop out of high school. Additionally, smaller learning communities appear to be successful not only due to smaller class sizes but because of the critical development of teacher-student relationships.

Wynn (2008) reported findings and provided recommendations on how to implement a successful technology education program. Greenfield-Central High School in Greenfield, Indiana is the home of an outstanding Technology Education Program (TEP) that has received accolades from across the nation. Over the last twenty years, the school has been recognized as Indiana's Program Excellence winner three times. The TEP teachers find success by adapting to the needs of the students. The TEP programs are personalized to focus on careers in the present computer savvy society. Students are grouped by commonalities in skills, future endeavors, and academic levels. The program caters to the individual student in a small learning community with a curriculum that concentrates on the fundamental principles of technology education.

Career and Technology Programs

Career and Technology Programs (CTE) was originally established to create smaller learning communities (SLC) that focused on trade-specific programs to prepare students for postsecondary education and/ or the workforce endeavors (Donlevy, 2002). Baltimore City Public Schools partnered with the United Parcel Service (UPS) in 1998 to establish a SLC that was personalized for urban students interested in a career with UPS. The pilot program originated in Baltimore City-College High School and the SLC was named The UPS School. The objective of The UPS school was to provide learning and work opportunities for urban public school students in Baltimore who are apart of the welfare system. The UPS curriculum challenges students to understand the perspective of employment in a large corporation and reveals positive pathways to success with an entry-level part-time package handler position upon graduation of high school (Donlevy, 2002). The UPS School is available to all students, including students in special education. The curriculum goal is for students to pursue continuing education by using informative, challenging, and practical strategies that will ensure achievement in postsecondary education and/ or the workforce.

The UPS School's course work guarantees students a professional UPS certification signed by teacher and principal upon successful completion. The certification serves as a document to potential UPS employers proving the student has acquired the essential knowledge to apply for an entry-level position. The certification also signifies that the curriculum and job competency goals have been achieved and that the student is prepared to enter the workforce with strengths in basic work readiness, job attitude, cooperation, punctuality and other important skill areas (Donlevy, 2002).

Not only does the UPS school assist regular students, its curriculum is modified to accommodate special education students as well. In many special education classrooms, preparation for the workforce is emphasized by teachers looking for real-world links to spark enthusiasm and motivation in their students (Payne, 2006). The UPS curriculum addresses this need by providing genuine opportunities for students to explore professional work in a company and by discovering future career opportunities. Teachers are able to capitalize on these strong points to build motivation, interest and develop professional skills in their students (Donlevy, 2002).

Additionally, special education teachers are able to develop social skills in their students from the customer service perspective section of the curriculum. Social skills objectives, authored as part of a student's Individualized Educational Program (IEP), will take on increased motivational significance when considered from the perspective of the job (Donlevy, 2002). Learning how to work with customers and co-workers, how to handle conflicts and how to negotiate difficult interpersonal situations will help students acquire important skills for job success and possible managerial roles (Donlevy, 2002).

Schools interested in Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs should consider adopting the UPS curriculum. The UPS curriculum is composed of academic and technical standards that allow students to achieve in the workforce and postsecondary education when they are met. The UPS school was created to be used in secondary urban schools. The curriculum assesses students on attendance, participation, and mastery of material. The curriculum also covers the major core subjects of secondary school; for example according to Donlevy (2007) the following are best practices that The UPS School has used in the following subjects:

An English activity (journal writing with reflections on topics arising in UPS class)

A math activity (researching data, charting, graphing)

A science activity (linked to the Habits)

A social studies activity (maps, geography)

A physical activity (stretching and breathing exercises)

A job-readiness activity (filling out forms, writing resumes, budgeting, practicing job interviewing skills) (p. 4).

Due to success in Baltimore the UPS school has expanded to other urban cities including Oakland, New York City, and San Antonio. The UPS school is and outstanding example of a smaller learning community assisting the personal needs of students and preparing them for the workforce and postsecondary education.

Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS) under the direction of William Hite, Ph.D, incorporated Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs into every high school in 2006 (Dieringer & Cureton 2008). Dieringer and Cureton (2008) presented the achievement rates of PGCPS Career & Technical Education programs which are dedicated to providing high quality, state-of-the-art education that prepare students to pursue post secondary education and/or meaningful employment after graduation at the annual Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR) Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2008. The CTE curriculum is divided into three specialized sections: Business Education, Family & Consumer Sciences, and the Technical Academy.

The Business Education Programs consists of personalized education for students who are interested in Accounting, Finance, Administrative Services, and Data Processing. These programs are taught through an academy which is a component of smaller learning communities (SLC). For example, Academy of Finance is offered at Charles Herbert High School in Lanham, MD. This Academy offer students to gain specialized preparation in the field of finance, while they complete their normal course curriculum (Dieringer & Cureton 2008). The Academy is affiliated with and administered by the National Academy Foundation (NAF), based in New York City. This program is designed to facilitate the transition from high school to advanced training and eventually a career in the financial services industry. The smaller learning community is developed by the National Academy Foundation in collaboration with leading educators and industry experts (Dieringer & Cureton 2008). In the Business Education classrooms students acquire the basics of personal finance, develop techniques for making wise consumer decisions, master economic principles, and learn how business operate. In 2005, 86% of PGCPS graduates of the Academy of Finance at Charles Herbert Flowers High School entered the workforce with entry-level positions or received acceptance to a post secondary institution (Dieringer & Cureton 2008).

The Family and Consumer Sciences smaller learning communities personalize education in the following courses: Adolescent Single Parenting, Child Development, Fashion Design, Independent Living, ProStart, and Teacher Academy. These smaller learning communities (SLC) also educate students to be productive citizens by providing guidance and development of practical skills that are common in the workforce (Dieringer & Cureton 2008). The ProStart learning community is a School-to-Career program in partnership with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. The ProStart curriculum focuses on culinary and restaurant management and is a two year career building program. ProStart graduates could either enter the job market directly after high school or attend a post secondary institution (Dieringer & Cureton 2008). Students acquire classroom experience and mentored work experience within the ProStart learning community to ensure maximum comprehension of content.

The classroom experience provides students with fundamental culinary and management skills. On the other hand, the mentored work experience allows students to receive mentor support, character development and real-world skills that give them a head start into the foodservice industry. Upon completion of the program students receive a solid foundation for their future endeavors and a ProStart National Certificate of Achievement. The certificate allows students to earn special scholarships and college credit and opens the door for their career. In 2007, 81% of Eleanor Roosevelt High School ProStart graduates in Greenbelt, MD graduates received acceptance to the Art Institute of Washington which is regarded for its culinary program (Dieringer & Cureton 2008).

The Technical Academy provides hands on teaching and learning for students interested in the labor workforce. This Academy is available at seven high schools in Prince George's County (Suitland, Crossland, Bladensburg, Laurel, Gwynn Park, Croom and Tall Oaks). Students enrolled in the Technical Academy receive personalized education in the following programs: Automotive Body Repair, Carpentry, Publishing & Graphics, Computer Networking, and Architectural Drafting and Design. Prince George's County Public Schools partnered with the Foundation of Automotive and Construction Technology for Students (FACTS) to establish access for students to provide them with a meaningful educational opportunity. Through the FACTS programs students enrolled in the Auto Mechanics Academy has the privilege of assisting construction companies build a single family home from start to finish. In 2008, the Student-Built House sold for $304,000 in Greenbelt, Maryland (Dieringer & Cureton 2008). The Technical Academy of Prince George's County has received accolades from across the nation due to its achievement rate of its students. The 2007 graduating class of Croom High School graduated 100% of its students enrolled in the program (Dieringer & Cureton 2008).

CHAPTER III

DESIGN OF STUDY

Population

Participants were selected from a population of 2,779 students enrolled in a local high school located in the central part of Prince George's County. Fifty one percent of those students are males and forty nine percent are females. The students range in age from fourteen to nineteen years old. There are five ethnicity subgroups at this high school. Ninety three percent of the students were African American, two percent are Hispanic and Caucasian, and the remaining three percent are American Indian or Asian/Pacific. Students attend this high school from various areas of central Prince George's County. The social economic status fluctuates from in each area.

Sample

There were multiple participants in this study. The first two groups of participants (Group A & B) in this study are students who have graduated, within the past two years. There were fifty students in these two groups. There were twenty-one males and twenty-six females who graduated in 2009 and 2010. All of the samples were African-American. A third group (Group C) is students who are in the twelfth grade during this present school year. Twenty-five students were selected in this group, all of them were African American and in this group there were fourteen males and eleven females. The participants at the time of the transcripts being recorded are between the ages of 16-18.

Procedures & Techniques

Group A & B are students who have previously graduated from the high school. I met with the guidance counselor chairperson to receive a list of all the graduates from the high school within the two previous school years. From there I randomly selected fifty students names by using an Excel program on a computer located in the school library. Once I gathered the information, I determine who is enrolled in a CTE program and who was enrolled in general education program based on their official transcript. I ranked the students based on their overall GPA.

Group C consist of students of students within the school, all in the twelfth grade. I met with the guidance counselor chairperson and receive a list of all students. From there, I randomly selected twenty-five students' names through an Excel program on a computer located in the she school library, different from the computer I used to randomly select Group A. Once I gathered the information, I ranked the student based on their overall GPA.

Instrumentation

Grade point averages were collected based on students grades utilizing a four point scale. The grades are based on grades that are submitted by each teacher per quarter, based on class work, homework, and assessment grades in the class. The grades of all of the participant's classes are given a point system. The grade of an "A" equals four points; the grade of a "B" equals three points; the grade of a "C" equals two points; the grade of a "D" equals one point; and the grade of an "E" equals zero points. There will be a difference of collecting data from transcripts of students who were currently enrolled in the twelfth grade. Students currently in the twelfth grade no longer receive letter grades but receive numerical grades. There is a question of accuracy of the grades, due to teacher's giving grades to students not based on student performance.

Data Analysis

I use the t-test in order to test the significance of the null hypotheses in this study. The t-test was used to analyze the grade point averages of students who are in the CTE programs and those who are not enrolled in the programs in order to determine who ranks better or worse and the impact on graduating within a four year period. I choose the t-test because I have a nominal variable, which is whether or not the students are enrolled in a CTE program or a Non-CTE program. The measurable variable is the student's grade point average. The t-test calculate the difference between the means of the variables.

CHAPTER IV

ANALYSIS OF THE DATA

In doing this research, I analyzed this data a number of ways. One thing I discovered in analyzing the data was that everyone who was in a CTE program graduated. Out of the seventy-five students who were used in this research only seven students did not graduate. I also discovered that the achievement of students decreased each year, however, graduation rates did not. The students from Group A, B, and C that were enrolled in a CTE program's GPA were consistent all three years, they were higher in Group A, declined in Group B, and the rose again in Group C. This decrease should be attributed to the fact that through budget and staff reduction some CTE programs were cut. Students in nonCTE programs maintained a low average GPA through the three years

Table : Grade Point Averages of group A, B, and C

Group A

Group B

Group C

Overall GPA

2.34

2.1

2.0952

Enrolled in a CTE program

2.77

2.1

2.6

Not enrolled in a CTE program

2.09

1.9

1.6

Overall, students enrolled in CTE Programs had a significantly higher GPA than students not enrolled in a CTE Program. The graduates and potential CTE graduates maintained a higher GPA than the NonCTE graduates and potential graduates.

Table : Grade Point Average of CTE Program students and Non CTE Program students

CTE Program

Non CTE Program

GPA

2.55

1.98

Graduates

2.51

2.26

Upcoming Graduates

2.606667

1.6

The most important part of this data from my research was the discovery of whether or not there was a difference between the grade point averages of students enrolled in CTE programs and non CTE programs. Through my research, I found that there was a difference and it is considered to be very statistically significant.

Table : T-Test Results

  Group

  CTE GPA  

  NonCTE GPA  

Mean

2.5519

1.9773

SD

0.6932

0.8088

SEM

0.1334

0.1167

N

27      

48      

CHAPTER V

SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Career and Technology Programs are beneficial to the achievement of all students. Career and Technology builds a bridge between core subjects and electives, that allow students to explore various career options. The research shown in this paper proves that there is a statistical significance in the achievement of students when they are enrolled in CTE programs. CTE students have a higher grade point average than students who were not enrolled in the programs. Not only is their overall grade point average higher but their ranking in their class is higher. Kemple and Snipes (2000) found that enrollment in a career academy significantly decreased the dropout rate of at-risk students. These students are ready to go out to the world and achieve their goals, because they were not bored in school, they were motivated, and given a chance to do what they like all because of certain programs in their building.

The research shows that it is beneficial for school districts to offer career and technology programs within their systems. It is extremely important as educators to provide our students with skills that will make them life long learners. This is a quality the businesses are looking for throughout the United States. Not only will the students who benefit from Career and Technology programs will have the vital skills that companies are looking for. The traditional workplace is changing from centralized to decentralized control and needs workers who can think, make decisions, and learn new skills (Clark, 1999). Advancement is based on knowledge and skills, rather than seniority.

There is a new model that schools must incorporate to have successful students, this new model includes formats such as tech prep, career academies, school registered apprenticeships, student internships, career-oriented high schools, and school-based enterprises (Schargel & Smink, 2001, p. 209). The School-to-Work (STW) Act of 1994 has had a major impact on career education in schools. With these programs students will be able to transition from school to work easier, or be ahead of the rest of the students when they arrive to college to gain further training in their career interest.

It is my recommendation that school systems think very carefully about the affects these programs have on students and their achievement before cutting them. Students in CTE programs are more motivated because rather than looking forward to a grade, they have a skill that they can utilize directly. The job of the school is to make sure that all curriculums are aligned with the programs so that students are getting skills from their core classes needed to succeed and graduate. Once the students have the skills and can apply them, they will do better on standardize test because they know how to apply the knowledge.

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