FAQ (and answers): About Career and Technical Education

We asked Delaware educators to give us their responses to the most common questions they get about career and technical education (CTE).  Here’s what they told us.

What’s a Pathway?
Note that the word “pathway” is used here as an umbrella term for a CTE course of study that can prepare you for a career. This includes, but isn’t limited to, the “Delaware Pathways” program.

We asked Delaware educators to give us their responses to the most common questions they get about career and technical education (CTE). Here’s what they told us.

Q:  Does CTE prepare students for jobs straight out of school?

Mike Trego, CTE coordinator,
Appoquinimink School District:
It’s a misnomer to say CTE is just about going straight to work. It’s not college or career, it’s college and career. Career pathways give students the opportunity to earn some college credits while in high school, so they can
go directly to work, or enter a two-year or four-year college program.

Jeff Menzer, assistant superintendent,
Colonial School District:
CTE is an opportunity to give students four years of engaging experience, classes they enjoy taking every day,
and when they get out, they have the experience to move on to the next level. … I’ve never had a parent ask, “what’s my kid going to make?” after high school. They want to be sure their child is happy and is going to be productive. Most parents want their children to be better off than they are.

Jack King, CTE specialist,
New Castle County Vo-Tech School District:
We make [parents] aware that businesses want employees with experience, something they can get through our co-op programs. Because our programs are more intensive, when our graduates enter [union] apprenticeship programs, they often start in the second year. That means higher pay and getting into the trade faster.

Q:  What can a student expect in a CTE pathway program?

They get strong preparation in a specific career area. They earn certifications that help them get jobs or enhance their college applications. They learn how to read manuals, how to interpret reports, how to do things that make them valuable to employers and to the military, or more attractive to college admissions officers.

Kathy Demarest, community relations officer,
New Castle County Vo-Tech School District:
They’ll leave here with experience they can’t get anywhere else. Besides learning a skill, they will get a co-op work experience, so they will face real-world situations in addition to getting a well-rounded education.

Q:  Both comprehensive high schools and technical schools offer CTE pathways. How can a student choose?

Vo-tech schools are very much about workforce readiness. Comprehensive high schools open more doors if a student is still uncertain about which way he wants to go.

Our pathways are 10 credits, not 3 to 6. At vo-tech schools, students take a deep dive. Our programming is deeper, more robust.

Our biggest asset is the time we spend with students. We offer practical experience and industry-relevant certifications.

Q:  If I choose a CTE pathway program and find out that I don’t like it, can I switch into a different one?

The way the state has arranged pathways, some of the introductory courses for similar fields are the same. You could, for example, take two levels in allied health and then switch into public and community health. Pick a pathway in freshman year. If you don’t like it, you can change in your sophomore year.

Our first-year curriculum is exploratory, so students can use that year to learn more about their options. However,
by the time you get to 11th grade, we can’t accommodate a move. Because we have a 10-credit graduation requirement, you wouldn’t be able to take all the courses you need and graduate on time.

A three-year pathway is a graduation requirement. If students want to try something different after 10th grade, they can finish the pathway they started in and take two years of classes in a second pathway.

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