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5 Steps to Maximize Career and Technical Education Funding

• Matthew Joseph

What are 5 steps to maximize the impact of CTE Funding?

Last week, we released our new career and technical education (CTE) playbook, Funding for Value: Maximizing the Impact of CTE Funding. In today’s post, playbook co-author Matthew Joseph explores the five steps states can take to maximize the impact of CTE funding. Enjoy!

Each state takes a unique, and often complex, approach to funding education, and these variations are often compounded with career and techncial education (CTE) funding. ExcelinEd’s newest CTE playbook, Funding for Value: Maximizing the Impact of CTE Funding, can help states identify ways to align their federal, state and local resources to maximize the return on investment of critical resources.

Funding for Value suggests five steps state policymakers can consider as they design CTE funding structures to support high-quality, high-performance and high-value CTE programs of study. For more on each step, see the playbook.

Step 1: Conduct an Analysis of CTE Funding

To calculate a return on investment and avoid duplications and inconsistencies, a state must first understand its investment in CTE. Policymakers should consider reviewing state funding allocations, expenditures of state CTE funds and the local investment each of their districts makes in CTE.

Download the State CTE Funding Analysis Template


Step 2: Focus on the Value of a CTE Course

Effective approaches to CTE funding consider the value of CTE courses and programs in terms of future career opportunities, advancement and earning potential.

Step 3: Incentivize Outcomes

States should consider exploring ways to link a portion of funding to actual student performance. Incentivizing improved student outcomes rewards schools and districts for implementing high-quality, effective programs.

Step 4: Address Obstacles to Value and Equity

As states focus funding on CTE courses that provide the highest value to students, they can also use funding to address—and phase out—lower-value courses.

Step 5: Align CTE Funding, Make It Transparent and Reward Efficiency and Innovation

Once a state has a clear vision about how it wants to invest in and incentivize CTE, it can align and braid its funding. Aligning means that if the state has identified high-value programs of study, the majority of state funding supports those priority programs. Braiding indicates that the various streams of funding complement each other.

See Illustrations and State Examples of These 5 Steps

CTE Playbook Series 

ExcelinEd’s CTE playbook series explores strategies and processes states can use to strengthen CTE program quality and provide students with pathways to postsecondary credentialing and middle- and higher wage career opportunities. Learn more at

About the author

Matthew Joseph

Matthew is Policy Director for Education Funding Reform for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Matthew previously worked as a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, spearheading a national initiative to improve strategic use of resources in public education. He also served as Executive Director of Advocates for Children and Youth, where he led successful efforts to improve education and other services in Maryland. He also worked as a Senior Associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Matthew received his Bachelor’s from Harvard University and a JD from the University of Maryland School of Law.