The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, section 3 (41)(A), defines a program of study as a coordinated, non-duplicative sequence of academic and technical content at the secondary and postsecondary level that-

  • incorporates challenging State academic standards, including those adopted by a State under section 1111(b)(1) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA) of 1965;
  • addresses both academic and technical knowledge and skills, including employability skills;
  • is aligned with the needs of industries in the economy of the State, region, Tribal community, or local area;
  • progresses in specificity (beginning with all aspects of an industry or career cluster and leading to more occupation-specific instruction);
  • has multiple entry and exit points that incorporate credentialing; and,
  • culminates in the attainment of a recognized postsecondary credential.

The State of Illinois is dedicated to ensuring that all students have access to rigorous and relevant educational opportunities that prepares them for success in college and careers. In order to achieve this goal, all Illinois educational systems must work collectively and collaboratively to create an aligned educational structure that improves student learning. Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, which combine challenging academic coursework with relevant, career-focused content, are uniquely positioned to respond to this challenge.