The U.S. Department of Education recently released a new fact sheet highlighting ways states and school districts are using American Rescue Plan funds to reengage students and enhance academic learning by expanding career and technical education opportunities. As schools help students address lost instructional time, high-quality CTE programs can be a powerful tool to boost school engagement and on-time graduation, according to a news release issued by the USDOE.

“As our nation recovers from the pandemic, we must ensure today’s students are ready to meet tomorrow’s needs. Investments in career and technical education – programs that are proven to successfully reengage students and prepare them for in-demand, good paying jobs – are key to that goal,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.  “Expanded pathways from high school to the workforce can help students gain the skills and earn the credentials needed for high-growth jobs, including those that don’t require a four-year college degree.”

The American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund has provided nearly $122 billion to states and school districts to invest in K-12 schools and meet the urgent needs of schools and students as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new fact sheet highlights examples of how states are using relief funds for CTE programs in high schools as part of their work to help students and communities recover and create opportunities for students to pursue higher education and successful careers.

Students who complete a sequence of CTE courses in high school are more likely to graduate on time and enroll in postsecondary education. Course sequences can include opportunities to participate in work-based learning and to earn postsecondary credit or industry-recognized credentials in high school.

Earlier this year, Cardona highlighted the importance of making higher education more inclusive and affordable as he laid out his vision and priorities for education in America. He also stressed that students should have pathways through higher education that lead to successful careers.

Read more about state and local investments in CTE programs using ARP ESSER funds in the fact sheet. A new Homeroom blog post for students, families and educators details how CTE programs prepare students for in-demand career pathways by providing opportunities for hands-on experiences and instructional time, much of which was interrupted due to COVID-19 challenges.