October 2020

IZA DP No. 13817: Career and Technical Education in High School and Postsecondary Career Pathways in Washington State

James Cowan, Dan Goldhaber, Harry J. Holzer, Natsumi Naito, Zeyu Xu

In this study, we describe the postsecondary transitions of students taking CTE courses in high school using administrative data on one cohort of high school students from Washington State. Our findings indicate that CTE students are less likely to enroll in college overall, especially four-year college. But among students who do enroll in college, CTE students are significantly more likely to enroll in and complete vocational programs, especially in applied STEM and public safety fields. Among students not enrolled in college, CTE students also are more likely to obtain full-time employment—and to work more intensively—within the first three years following high school graduation. Thus, despite the reduction in four-year college enrollment, the higher completion rates of vocational credentials among CTE concentrators in college indicate some important positive outcomes for this population.