Dual credit and certification programs in high school career and technical education: an explanatory sequential mixed methods inquiry
Schulz, Chantel Lynn
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An emphasis on earning certifications and associates degrees in Career and Technical Education (CTE) has surfaced recently as a means to solve America’s growing shortage of skilled tradesmen and enhance high school education so that all students are college and/or career ready upon graduation from high school. However, there is a lack of research on characteristics and curricular components of CTE dual credit and certification programs and very few records kept to monitor, study, and analyze the on goings of CTE across school districts. The explanatory sequential mixed methods study was conducted to examine selected characteristics and curricular components of CTE dual credit and certification programs in south Texas high schools. Quantitative data were collected through survey responses gathered from 69 district CTE experts and analyzed. Qualitative data were obtained through a focus group of 3 survey respondents and analyzed. Quantitative and qualitative data were then synthesized and interpreted. External validity was limited to the participants of the study and due to the non-experimental nature of the study, no causal inferences were drawn. Analysis of the quantitative data showed program offering ranges of 0-32 for dual credit and 0-35 for certification programs with a mode of 0 for both. Rural school districts tended to offer less dual credit and certification programs to their students and were located farther from postsecondary educational institutions than urban and suburban school districts. Analysis of the data also revealed that the availability of all seven selected curricular components derived from David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory was significantly lower than the perceived importance of each. Analysis of the qualitative data resulted in five themes: Image, Curriculum, Relationships, Factors, and Accountability. Findings from the study revealed that characteristics and curricular components of CTE dual credit and certification programs are not uniform across school districts. A closer look at specific factors such as distance from the nearest postsecondary educational institution, student population, and staffing issues may reveal reasons for this disparity. Curricular components and teaching strategies varied across school districts as well. An examination of CTE teacher and instructor preparation programs may also uncover reasons for these discrepancies.