The impact of career and technical education on high school graduation rates in Tennessee

Terry Webb, Tennessee State University


In the past, negative effects of not graduating high school have included a higher likelihood of unemployment, a greater chance of living below the poverty line, and relying on government supported programs. Health problems and criminal activities are also linked to the incompletion of high school. One domain of the high school curriculum, Career and Technical Education, also known as vocational education, has been alternately praised and criticized for its potential effects on educational outcomes. The purpose of this quantitative study was to compare graduation rates of career and technical education (CTE) students to non-CTE students in Tennessee. The purpose of the study included looking at the graduation data variables in regard to the effects of gender and socioeconomic status on CTE and non-CTE students in graduating from high school. This study was a comparison of CTE and non-CTE students in 14 public school systems in the Upper Cumberland Region of Tennessee. The general problem was that many school leaders still feel CTE is a second rate education for students who are not postsecondary bound upon high school graduation and is of little value to students who are postsecondary bound. The specific problem was there was a lack of knowledge regarding the impact CTE has on increasing high school graduation rates. CTE's impact on graduation rates needed to be evaluated through measuring the effects CTE course-taking has on meeting graduation rates. A comparison between all CTE concentrators compared to all other students served this purpose. This study was designed to compare and evaluate the impact CTE has upon graduation rates of CTE concentrators versus those students of non-CTE studies. While CTE concentrators did graduate at a higher rate than non-CTE 12th grade students in most of the schools systems that participated in the study, there was not a statistically significant difference to support CTE as the reason for these differences.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|School administration|Vocational education

Recommended Citation

Terry Webb, "The impact of career and technical education on high school graduation rates in Tennessee" (2012). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3508211.