New models of career and technical education (CTE) have expanded student choices and shifted towards high-quality, career-themed programs of study and pathways to careers. Advising within CTE programs plays a key role in guiding student pathway choices and ensuring that career information is received by all students, rather than a select few.
Many schools and districts supplement student career exploration and advising with technology-based advising tools. These tools are designed to help students identify the career interests, aptitudes, and personality traits that could make them successful in a variety of careers, including those they may not otherwise have identified as areas of interest.
CTE Advise: Advising Tools in Secondary Education aims to rigorously test two of the most popular of these tools, Xello and YouScience, to understand whether and how they influence student thinking about career options, choice of relevant CTE coursework and work-based learning options, and decisions about CTE concentration in available pathways and programs of study. A focus of this study is on understanding if these tools contribute to more equitable student outcomes.
With funding from the U.S. Institute of Education Sciences (grant number R305A200307), MDRC’s study will use a rigorous school-level random assignment research design, paired with a study of the implementation of technology-based advising tools and a cost-effectiveness analysis. In addition, MDRC is partnering with Communities In Schools, a nonprofit intermediary that works with over 2,300 schools across the country, and with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to identify potential schools and districts for participation.