The Need for A Modernized National Career Clusters® Framework and the Road Ahead

April 17th, 2024

In December 2022, Advance CTE announced the relaunch of an initiative to modernize the National Career Clusters Framework. This work is led by two national partners Indigo Education Company and WestEd and supported by a National Advisory Committee, Industry Advisory Groups, and other avenues to receive input from thousands of professionals connected involved in delivering and experiencing Career Technical Education (CTE) and the Framework.  

The year is 2002:The first iPod had just been released, but we are five years away from the release of the first iPhone. 

  • Facebook, YouTube, and the Android operating system do not exist. 
  • Google News is launched 
  • Over half of US jobs only require limited digital skills 
  • The current National Career Clusters Framework was established and released to the Career Technical Education (CTE) community. 

The year is 2024: 

The Advancing the Framework modernization initiative in response to growing feedback from the field about the need to align the Framework to the realities of learning and work today and in the future. Educators and industry leaders have told us in national surveys that they want the Framework to be more inclusive of emerging sectors and aligned to the new workplace, and have language that better bridges industry and education. 

Our Vision for a New Framework 

Imagine a Framework where a learner can take courses in agriculture, entrepreneurship, and unmanned vehicle systems in one program of study. They participate in FFA competitions for agricultural technologies, and earn both a remote pilot’s license and a professional certificate in entrepreneurship. As a result, they start their own business operating drones and digital mapping to help farmers better identify crop water needs, damage, and harvesting schedules. 

This modernization is an exciting opportunity to remove silos across industry and education, state and local levels, and across Career Clusters that are keeping learners from being fully prepared for the world of work. A modernized Framework should be flexible for every state and will: 


As a result, industry will gain workers with a broader skill set who are more prepared for the workplace. Learners will have more personalized paths to living wage jobs and gain skills for a variety of careers. CTE educators will be able to align and design programs that better reflect the interdisciplinary nature of work, and extend that flexibility to career exploration, work-based learning, and other experiences. And state CTE leaders will be able to build systems, professional development, and resources that are more responsive to industry needs.

The Road Ahead and Opportunities for Input 

Currently, we are developing a draft Framework, grounded in labor market data and informed by education and industry leaders across the country. This draft Framework will be available for input from the public this summer. This is the first step on what will be a multi-year journey from 2025 and beyond to finalize, adopt, and implement a new Framework.  

Advance CTE is considering and preparing for the impact of a modernized Framework on program of study structure, educator credentialing, state staff structure, Career Technical Student Organization (CTSO) alignment, data collection, legislative initiatives, and more. Once a state does adopt the Framework they will have ample time to implement the Framework and related supports and materials.  Advance CTE will work closely with states during the implementation phase providing both general resources and materials and working on state-specific needs that align with the pace at which the state chooses to adopt the Framework.

With your help, everyone in the CTE community will have the opportunity to provide feedback on a draft Framework before it is finalized. 

Take one of the following steps:

  • Share our sign-up form with your network to receive timely email updates
  • Explore and share our explainer documents at your next meeting, including Frequently Asked Questions, Myth explainer, and more to come.

Contact for additional information or questions.

Kate Kreamer, Executive Director 

We Need Your Help to Modernize the National Career Clusters Framework

April 23rd, 2021

Over the past year, Advance CTE has worked with state and national partners to modernize The National Career ClustersⓇ Framework (The Framework). Through kitchen cabinets, stakeholder engagement sessions, and town halls with our members, we collected a ton of great information about the purpose and the users of The Framework, its value, and where it no longer fits with the modern and future world of work. We recognize that The Framework has lived its useful life.

Now, more than ever, we need support from our community to help develop a new, modernized Framework. We know that we don’t have all the answers about the potential of a new Framework, so Advance CTE has opened an online crowdsourcing portal to collect ideas from you. This undertaking is no small task, and the strength of The Framework has always been the state-led, collaborative approach to build and update it. The more ideas we can collect, the stronger the end product will become. Here are some top tips to help you when filling out the portal

  1. You don’t have to go it alone: Are you an educator looking for a class project or an employee of a non-profit company in the CTE and career readiness space? What about an employer who hires CTE students? Collaborate with learners, your staff and peers to work together to submit an idea to the idea challenges.
  2. Complete one or all of the idea challenges: We know you have a busy schedule. However many idea challenges you choose to submit to, we welcome your input. Do not feel like you need to submit a response to all of them. Please pick the challenges that you connect with most and submit your strongest ideas. If you and your team are deep thinkers with a lot of feedback, please feel free to submit ideas for each of the challenges as well!
  3. Keep equity and access in mind: We are looking for ideas that center learners and are equity and access minded. Make sure to keep that lens when completing your submission.
  4. Be BOLD! and future-focused: We are looking for bold and innovative ideas! Think of the world of education and work in 2041 and how this framework may reflect that world. No idea is too ‘out there.’ The bolder the better!
  5. Unsure if you are the right person to submit an idea? If you are reading this blog, we want you to submit an idea. We are looking for ideas and perspectives from the full range of those impacted by education and the workforce including educators, learners, school counselors, school administrators, state leaders, employers, industry leaders, non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, economists, researchers, marketers, data professionals and more!

Submit your ideas today! The portal will be open until May 7. You can also help us get the word out about this initiative by using this promotional toolkit. Share the initiative with your networks through social media or inclusion in your newsletter.

Once the portal has closed, we will aggregate and tweak top ideas through facilitated workshops with a group of state- and national- level experts, with the end goal of two prototypes for a new, modernized Framework. After the development of these prototypes, we will again ask for feedback from the CTE and workforce communities to help us refine and hone a final version of a new Framework. Currently, Advance CTE is looking toward July 2024 for a rollout of this final version. Please visit or the Advancing the Framework page on our website for updates or more information about the timeline and process. Please contact policy associate Dan Hinderliter ( if you have any questions or require assistance with the portal.

Dan Hinderliter, Policy Associate

New Advance CTE and College Board Guide Examines How AP Courses can be Integrated into CTE Programs of Study

October 29th, 2018

Advanced Placement® (AP) and Career Technical Education (CTE) courses can and should work in tandem to support career readiness by encouraging the development of the academic knowledge and technical skills that are, together, increasingly important to students’ overall employability. For too long, “college-ready” and “career-ready” coursework and experiences have been viewed as separate in schools. With an estimated 65 percent of jobs in the economy requiring postsecondary education and training beyond high school by 2020, schools should promote college and career readiness.

To help state, district and school leaders think through how to place students on pathways that prepare them for college and career, Advance CTE and the College Board partnered to examine how AP® courses can be integrated into CTE programs of study in Advanced Placement® and Career and Technical Education: Working Together. This guide examines how specific AP courses can be embedded into or used to augment programs of study by Career Cluster®. To help leaders with this work, this resource provides guiding questions for leaders to consider and examines how Maryland and Tennessee integrate AP courses into CTE programs of study.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

STEMSuccess for Women: Empowering Educators to Recruit and Retain More Women in STEM

April 6th, 2015

We are excited to invite you to an upcoming virtual conference,STEMSuccess for Womewomeninstemn: Empowering Educators to Recruit and Retain More Women in STEM, where you’ll learn from leaders across the country who are engaging more women in the STEM fields.  One example: Professor Barbara DuFrain of Del Mar College who was able to increase female enrollment in her intro to computer programming classes by 62 percent, and improve overall retention by 45 percent.

Some of the other case studies you will hear over the course of the 12 sessions from April 13 – April 16 include…

  • How one department chairperson was able to increase female enrollment in her college’s STEM programs by 95 percent;
  • How a professor improved retention of female engineering students by 42 percent in one semester in only 12 teaching contact hours; and
  • How another professor increased the number of women who declared a computer science major from 11 percent to 46 percent by changing the introductory computer science course.

This free event is completely online, and you can participate via phone or computer. STEMSuccess for Women is hosted by Donna Milgram, Executive Director of the Institute for Women in Trades, Technology and Science

Learn more about this National Science Foundation funded virtual event here.

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Excellence in Action Awards Due December 5th

November 19th, 2014

Excellence in Action Awards, due December 5th, lifts up model programs and shines a light on high-quality and high-impact programs of study. Each winning program of study will be featured in our communications, marketing and advocacy materials, and used during Congressional visits, with members of the media and other CTE stakeholders to support a more positive image of CTE.

Last year, NASDCTEc awarded six schools with exemplary programs of study from around the country. This includes the Medical Sciences Program at Bollman Technical Education Center (BTEC), which received the award in the Health Science Career Clutser. Along with providing 16 career pathways aligned with the National Consortium for Health Science Education’s standards, and Colorado state standards for CTE, BTEC greatly encourages work-based learning through a variety of strong partnerships. BETC’s program of study provides a great example of what Excellence in Action looks like. We encourage you to learn more about the 2014 winners, and submit your program of study to join this wonderful cohort of leaders in CTE. Apply today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Excellence in Action Award Submissions Open

November 13th, 2014

Excellence in Action award banner

We want to learn more about and recognize high-quality and high-impact programs of study happening in every corner of the country. We encourage you to apply for the 2015 Excellence in Action award, or pass along this information to any stellar programs of study you know.

By lifting up model programs, NASDCTEc will shine a light on exemplary programs of study and provide examples to be used in our advocacy and communications efforts over the year. Each winning program of study will be featured in our communications, marketing and advocacy materials, and used during Congressional visits, with members of the media and other CTE stakeholders to support a more positive image of CTE. Learn more about last year’s winners here.

Winners will receive:

  • A banner to hang in their school or institution of higher education.
  • A digital banner (i.e., a customized logo) to use in email and print materials as they so choose.
  • Travel to and one-night accommodations in Washington, D.C. for the award winner to be recognized at an awards ceremony on April 8, 2015.

Winners will be featured:

  • At an awards ceremony on April 8, 2015 in Washington, D.C.
  • In a national press release that will be distributed to national media.
  • NASDCTEc will also create individualized press releases for each winner, which will be distributed to State CTE Directors.
  • In a one-pager, used as part of NASDCTEc’s federal advocacy toolkit.
  • In a monthly newsletter sent to members of Congress.
  • On webinars and/or conferences during the year.
  • In a stand-alone blog on NADSCTEc’s Learning that Works blog.
  • On the NASDCTEc website.

Apply today!

Katie Fitzgerald, Communications Associate

Achieving Excellence: What’s New at SIRDC?

June 6th, 2014


Greetings from the great state of Texas and the Statewide Instructional Resources Development Center (SIRDC)!

Our team is once again looking forward to presenting a breakout session at Achieving Excellence in CTE: The National Career Clusters® Institute. We have added lots of new free lessons, teacher online courses, and resources to our website for use this coming year that we are anxious to share with you. Yes, everything on the website is still free, no username, password or credit card required! SIRDC is funded by the Texas Education Agency through a Perkins state leadership grant awarded to Stephen F. Austin State University. The purpose of this project is to develop and provide free instructional lessons, resources and professional development for Texas instructors teaching 25 courses in the following career clusters:

  • Education and Training
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Human Services

There are currently over 280 instructional lessons published on our website additional lessons published monthly. Each lesson includes, in addition to the basic components, suggestions for special needs and ELL students, connections to core subject matter, handouts and activities, reading and writing strategies, CTSO and service learning ideas, and much more. SIRDC also provides 23 free teacher online courses, including an opportunity for instructors to earn CPE’s, see, links to additional cluster/course resources, see and a free monthly newsletter, see

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to contact me. We look forward to being with you in beautiful Phoenix, AZ!

Sandra Ann Delgado, CTE Associate Project Director, Statewide Instructional Resources Development Center

Excellence in Action: A Chat with Keynote Speaker Mark Milliron

May 21st, 2014

The Achieving Excellence Institute is less than one month away and the excitement is mounting! We have lined up an amazing set of speakers, tours and session leaders this year (more on the program here), some of which we’ve highlighted on this blog!

As a prelude to this can’t-miss event, NCTEF spoke with the Achieving Excellence Institute keynote speaker, Civitas Learning Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer Mark Milliron. Dr. Milliron combines decades of experience in CTE with his work on the cutting edge of digital learning with Civitas. The result is a fascinating perspective on the future of CTE and how data can inform instruction, advising and programs of study.

Listen to the beginning of the conversation below, and keep an eye on the CTE Blog for more of our conversation with Dr. Milliron.

Still haven’t registered? Sign up today!

Evan Williamson, Communications Associate

Achieving Excellence in CTE: Team Based Learning

May 20th, 2014

Oklahoma State University Institute of TechnologyBelow is an extended session description from presenter Tim Dwyer, Automotive Educator at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology’s Pro-Tech Program on his upcoming session at Achieving Excellence in CTE, the National Career Clusters Institute. Sign up for this session and more today!

I have said that my next new idea will be my first one! And after my first three years of teaching we needed some new ideas because what we were doing was not working. I was prepared for class and tried to be as entertaining as possible, attempting to keep the interest level up during the “lecture” process I remembered having to endure as a student myself. Then I found my PLN to be a lifesaver as I followed a suggestion to look at a teaching strategy called “Team-Based Learning” by Larry Michaelsen.

Team-Based Learning (TBL) is a strategy to transform a group of students into high-performance learning teams. Let’s face it; career technology students want more hands-on time in their learning. Many students don’t like lecture, reading, or delayed feedback. How do we encourage them to come to class with ‘first contact with content’ and not waste valuable class time so they can get to the hands-on part they really learn from? TBL answers this question and more.

You will leave this class with ideas you can use in your classroom immediately. Ideas that I have been using for 8 years now and can show you how and why they work! Discussions include individual testing that allows for splitting answers, followed by the same test taken again in a team environment using scratch off answer sheets. Immediate feedback is addressed by this process.

Peer reviews will be discussed; as well as application exercises that encourage student engagement. TBL also allows the class to decide grade weights and write their own exams, possibly considered controversial, but proven to be effective. The idea is to allow the student to be accountable for their own education and the instructor to become more of a classroom facilitator.

TBL makes learning fun for both student and instructor, and fun means student engagement. TBL challenges traditional lecture based education with a shift of educational accountability from the instructor to the student. I don’t believe we are responsible to just tell students all they need to know, we are simply to provide an environment that allows learning. Then it is up to the student to take responsibility for their own education.

Having said all this, I have continued to attend training with the goal of synthesizing and building on the works of others and to encourage others to build on our works. That’s how it works!

The common denominator seems to be … putting in the work.

Tim Dwyer, Automotive Educator at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology’s Pro-Tech Program

Witnessing Excellence in CTE: Sunrise Mountain High School

May 13th, 2014

560309_357213401027435_1199825433_nZach WitherspoonSunrise Mountain High School is a comprehensive high school with a number of high-quality programs of study that immerse their students in a wide swath of Career Clusters. From automotive technology (right), to early education, fire services (lower right) and everything in between (bottom!) Sunrise Mountain has integrated quality CTE programs into its comprehensive structure, emphasizing community service and student skill development, making college-, career- and citizen-ready graduates.

Achieving Excellence Institute attendees are invited to join us learning about Sunrise Mountain’s singular programs of study, employer partnerships and postsecondary engagement strategies, as one of the many unique professional development opportunities available at the Achieving Excellence Institute.

Don’t forget, the Achieving Excellence Institute is only a month away (6/16 in Phoenix, AZ)! Register now to ensure your spot at this fantastic professional development opportunity, and to ensure you get signed up for your top priority tour! Keep an eye on the CTE blog for more information on this event, and if you haven’t, be sure to REGISTER TODAY!