Study Finds Participation in Career and Technical Education (CTE) Linked to Higher Graduation Rates

For immediate release: May 10, 2016

Contact: Anne Hierholzer

Exploring the relationship between CTE and graduation rates

Starkville, Miss. – A recent study from the Research and Curriculum Unit (RCU) at Mississippi State University found that participation in career and technical education (CTE) courses is positively correlated with higher graduation rates among Mississippi high school students.

Researchers from the RCU analyzed student-level data from over 15,000 Mississippi high school students and found that those who took at least one CTE course graduated at higher rates. During the 2011-2012 school year, students who participated in CTE had a four-year graduation rate of 83.9%, compared to a 75.5% rate for Mississippi high school students overall.

The link between CTE participation and on-time graduation was most notable among Black students. During the 2011-2012 school year, Black CTE students had a four-year graduation rate of 82.9%, while the rate for Mississippi’s Black students overall was 68.1%.

Among the various CTE programs, health science (94.0%), marketing (90.9%), and arts, audiovisual technology, and communication (90.7%) students had the highest graduation rates.

“Students who drop out of high school before earning their diploma experience significantly diminished economic outcomes,” said Sean Owen, the study’s principal author, adding that the state of Mississippi bears a large economic burden due to the lost earning power of high school dropouts.

By linking high school coursework with students’ college and career goals, CTE holds promise for keeping students interested in school. CTE trains students in real-world skills they can use to obtain jobs in a wide range of industries, from agriculture to polymer science. On average, about one-third of Mississippi high school students enroll in a CTE course each year.

To learn more about the RCU and its work to support public education in the state of Mississippi, visit