Resource Alert

State CTE Standards Report

There are many excellent resources that can provide insight into developing or improving a comprehensive career and technical education (CTE) program. One resource that I have found invaluable for understanding the landscape of CTE standards across the United States is The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of State CTE Standards.1 Analyzing these standards provides insights into the expectations for CTE programs and their potential workforce impact. The report sheds light on the diversity of CTE standards adopted by different states. Each state outlines its unique expectations, regional workforce needs, economic priorities, and educational objectives. This diversity is essential in tailoring CTE programs to local contexts, ensuring students are prepared for relevant opportunities in their regions. While the uniqueness of state CTE standards is advantageous for addressing local needs, it also introduces variability.

The report examines in depth the consistency and differences in CTE standards across states. Some states emphasize certain industries or skill sets above others, leading to variations in curriculum focus. Understanding this variability is crucial for educators, policymakers, and stakeholders in their work to foster a national CTE landscape that balances regional specificity with a shared commitment to excellence. States with rigorous, comprehensive standards often produce CTE programs that align closely with industry needs and students who graduate with the skills demanded by the job market. On the other hand, disparities in standards may pose challenges for students moving across state lines or pursuing careers in industries with differing regional emphases. Analyzing the standards set by different states reveals the strength and variability of CTE programs to address regional workforce needs, economic priorities, and educational objectives. This understanding is crucial for fostering collaboration and coherence in CTE. Additionally, by recognizing the strengths and disparities in CTE standards nationwide, stakeholders can work toward enhancing CTE programs’ effectiveness and ensuring students are well prepared for successful careers in a dynamic job market.

Mario Sousa is the director of career and technical education at Salem High School in Salem, Massachusetts. Previously, he was a lead carpentry teacher for Somerville Public Schools and operated a successful construction company for 12 years.


1. National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of State CTE Standards (Silver Spring, MD: 2013),

American Educator, Spring 2024