NC high school student CTE credential attainment hits new high

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt speaks at a Union County Public Schools about CTE achievements within North Carolina’s public schools. Photo via NCDPI

RALEIGH — North Carolina high school students saw a big jump in the number of career and technical education (CTE) credentials earned during the 2022-23 school year.  

Over 325,000 CTE credentials were earned by high school students in the state, marking the highest attainment rate in 13 years according to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI).  

This significant achievement was highlighted in the 2022-23 Credential Attainment Data Report, which was presented at the State Board of Education meeting on Feb. 7.  

The attainment rate for CTE students rose to 41%, up from 28% the previous year, with a notable 44% increase in credentials aligning with the North Carolina Workforce Credentials (NCWF) partners list.  

The NCWF list, curated in partnership with employers and workforce development organizations, saw more than half of its top 10 credentials earned in 2022-23 related to computer software, reflecting the importance of computer science education in various industries.  

The credential attainment report also highlighted the projected growth of computer and mathematical occupations by 2030, as indicated by the North Carolina Department of Commerce. 

“NC CTE has strategically aligned credential opportunities with what employers are seeking,” per an NCDPI press release announcing the gains. “The office provides easy-to-use resources for districts, including a Credential Directory that provides all the information CTE directors need to implement each program.” 

State Superintendent Catherine Truitt emphasized the value of these credentials in indicating mastery of in-demand skills essential for employment without a degree. 

“Aligning the K-12 education system with workforce needs has long been a priority for me. This report is fantastic news for the state of North Carolina because it shows the hard work that CTE educators across the state are doing to bridge the skills gap,” Truitt said in an NCDPI press release.  

“The process of earning industry-recognized credentials gives students an advantage in a competitive labor market and real-world experience,” said Truitt. “For potential employers, a credential is a sign that a student has both the knowledge and durable skills they need to succeed in the workplace.” 

Beyond imparting specific skills, CTE courses contribute to higher graduation rates, with CTE concentrators more likely to graduate on time compared to their peers.  

Truitt presented a sneak peek of the report during a Union County Public Schools (UCPS) CTE event held on Feb. 5.  

UCPS has consistently ranked among the top three districts in North Carolina for the number of credentials earned over the past three years and the district was commended for its exemplary performance in credential attainment, attributed to partnerships with local employers and initiatives like the Speakers Bureau program, which exposes middle school students to career options and durable skills. Those partnerships facilitated internships for 97 students this semester. 

Trey Michael, Senior Director of Career and Technical Education at NCDPI, emphasized collaboration with CTE educators statewide to enhance credential attainment efforts.  

“We conduct data dives with districts to help them identify where priority credentials are being left on the table. Then, we provide professional development to directors and teachers to improve their credential attainment in those areas,” Michael said in the press release. “Because of this, more students than ever before are graduating from North Carolina public schools ready to take on in-demand jobs that contribute to a strong and healthy economy in our state.” 

About A.P. Dillon 1293 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_