As the knowledge-based economy is growing globally, jobs in high-technology fields are expanding in the job market. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Career and Technical Education (CTE) coursework is designed to prepare students for college, careers and to challenge race and gender inequity patterns within professions. In Washington, CTE programs are organized into career clusters comprising jobs and industries related to skills or products. The state of Washington has adopted 16 career clusters and in this study eight career clusters are categorized as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM and STEM related) fields and eight as non-STEM fields. Washington high school graduation requirements include one credit of "occupational" education. As a result, nearly all graduates take at least one CTE course. However, CTE concentrators are students who enrolled in at least two credits in a single career cluster within their four-year high school career.
This study aims to describe the characteristics of Washington public high school students who are CTE concentrators and their post-high school activities, including postsecondary enrollment and participation in apprenticeships. Additionally, this study examines students’ concentrator status by career cluster, indicating a focus on STEM or non-STEM careers. This study analyzes data from five cohorts of first-time ninth-graders between the 2011 and 2015 school years who graduated on time and obtained a high school diploma between 2014 and 2018.