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Volume 22, Number 4
July/August 2006

Beyond Auto Shop 1

Is career and technical education a promising path for high school reform?


The kids in Jeanne Gurtler’s marketing class buy and sell a lot of cars—at least in theory. Gurtler teaches marketing and entrepreneurship at Mineral County Technical Center, located in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. The center is a stand-alone vocational education facility serving the county’s two high schools. Gurtler was there in 1993 when the district implemented the reform model known as High Schools That Work. Three years later, lawmakers adopted the format as a statewide strategy for improving all of its 150-plus high schools.

Created by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) in 1987, the High Schools That Work model is now used in more than 1,200 schools in 32 states. It’s one of several approaches to vocational education—increasingly known as career and technical education (CTE)—that has emerged over the past decade or two.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

High Schools That Work, Southern Regional Education Board, 592 10th St. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30318; tel:

R. Kazis, ed., Remaking Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century: What Role for High School Programs? Boston: Jobs for the Future, 2005.

J.J. Kemple and J. Scott-Clayton. Career Academies: Impacts on Labor Market Outcomes and Educational Attainment. New York: MDRC, 2004. Available online at

Project Lead the Way, 747 Pierce Rd., Clifton Park, NY 12065; tel: (518) 877-6491.

M. Silverberg, E. Warner, M. Fong, and D. Goodwin. National Assessment of Vocational Education: Final Report to Congress. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, 2004. Available online at