U.S. business leaders, politicians, educators, and others within the community have been inundated with reports that claim many of today’s high school graduates are ill-prepared, from a functional literacy standpoint, to face the challenges posed by the global marketplace (Achieve, 2004; Brown et al., 2005; Friedman, 2005; and Judy & D’Amico, 1997). In an effort to ensure today’s students are better prepared for a world of work that is driven by technology, U.S. Congress passed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act at the behest of former President Bush in 2001. Consequently, school districts throughout the U.S. have responded to the accountability measures within NCLB by increasing public high school graduation requirements in the core subject areas (i.e., English, math, science, and social studies). To this end, other key areas that make-up the high school experience are scrambling to identify strategies that enhance improvement within the core subjects mentioned above. More specifically, secondary Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in one Midwest State have experimented with state-sanctioned projects in the areas of math and language arts known as embedded credit. Wherein, for the purposes of this study, secondary area vocational and technical schools’ CTE teachers develop teaching methods and strategies, in math, with the cooperation of academic teachers from their sending school districts. In so doing, it is expected that CTE students will be exposed to more math theory while in their CTE courses and additional practical math applications while attending their academic institutions. One version of the embedded math credit approach allows students seeking an additional math credit to request participation in the embedded coursework while attending the CTE institution and testing for the embedded credit at their sending school location under the direction of an accredited math teacher near the end of senior year.
Early aspects of research literature revealed that NCLB insisted that core subject areas be delivered only by highly-qualified teachers after the 2005-06 school year (OESE, 2005). To this end, NCLB defines a new highly-qualified teacher as one who possesses a state teacher’s license, a bachelor’s degree, and a related professional credential. With this in mind, there were secondary math and CTE teachers in one Midwest State who participated in the embedded math credit program who did not meet NCLB’s definition of a new highly-qualified teacher. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to establish baseline data, in a scientific manner, that examines the relationship between traditional and non-traditional CTE programs’ teachers’ backgrounds and methods and their students’ mathematical gains as measured by standardized pre- and post-tests. A mixed method / quasi-experimental approach was undertaken to establish criteria for the teachers and students (Kingsbury, 2006).
The math and CTE teachers’ survey was developed based on the research literature, pre-tested, piloted-tested, and, eventually, launched, collected, and analyzed utilizing an online survey tool. Over 50 percent of the teachers from the two control groups and or one experimental group participated in the survey. From a descriptive standpoint, the respondents’ backgrounds did not reveal notable differences between the control groups and or experimental group. Additionally, an inferential statistical method found no significant difference between the teachers’ methods utilized by the two control groups and or one experimental group.
Students from the two control groups and one experimental group are required to take a standardized math test within the first three months of their junior year and a posttest within the last three months of their senior year. ACT’s WorkKeys Applied Math assessment was utilized as the pre- and post-test instrument. With the permission and cooperation of the participating schools’ administrators, pre- and post-test data were gathered, analyzed, and, finally, reported in an aggregate manner. With respect to students’ test score gains, an inferential statistical method found no significant difference between the two control groups and or one experimental group.