Graduation Rates of CTE Students decrease to 13% by 2015 (Mississippi Board of Education, 2013). Nationwide, students’ and their families’ views about CTE appear to be changing, encouraging more secondary students to pursue CTE credits and more secondary CTE students to seek post-secondary educational opportunities or national certifications that they may use to secure family-sustaining positions and close the skills gap currently plaguing U.S. employers. This skills gap is particularly concerning in Mississippi, where job projections in 2018 show a majority of jobs will constitute middle-skills positions and the state will lack workers to fill them (Jordan & Dechert, 2012). Reducing dropout rates while simultaneously boosting graduation rates and postsecondary enrollments among secondary students is an enigma currently challenging the U.S. public education system. The issue also presents a challenge to researchers, in large part because of the historic difficulty of determining and comparing each state’s definition of a “graduate.” Rumberger (2011) has observed that each state’s previously insular ability to determine factors such as whether and how General Educational Development (GED) certificates and student transfers were applied toward high-school graduation rates impeded graduation-rate research, especially before some federal restrictions were imposed on states in 2011-2012. Rumberger (2011) further explains that “not dropping out of school is not the same as graduating” (p. 279), with various studies supporting his finding that “completing high school by earning a regular diploma and completing high school by earning an equivalency diploma … are not equivalent” in terms of economic benefits to the student or his or her state of residence (p. 279). Estimates of actual high school graduation and on-time graduation rates within the U.S. vary widely, with Heckman & LaFontaine (2007) finding a variation from 66% to 88%. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) calculated the U.S.
Published in Proceedings of 2013 CREATE Conference Authors: Young Bin Lim Sean Owen Alexis Nordin