Career and Technical Education Department

  • Department Chair: Rob Abbott

    “Career and technical education as we know it today has its roots in the founding of the United States. From the start, a strong knowledge base and skill set for citizens were considered important,” – Association for Career and Technical Education


    Colonial Forge Career and Technical Education (CTE)  

    Career and Technical Education means organized educational activities that offer a sequence of courses that provides individuals with coherent and rigorous content aligned with challenging academic standards. Classes provide relevant technical knowledge and skills needed to prepare for further education at two or four-year colleges and universities, technical schools or career academies, apprenticeships and careers in current or emerging professions.  

    The Colonial Forge CTE program includes prerequisite courses and competency-based applied learning that contributes to academic knowledge, higher-order reasoning and problem-solving skills, work attitudes, general employability skills, technical skills, occupation-specific skills, and knowledge of all aspects of an industry, including entrepreneurship, of an individual.

    The occupational fields included in the program of study at Colonial Forge are divided into four subcategories:  Technical Education (Tech Ed), Health and Medical Sciences (HMS), Family and Consumer Science (FACS), and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp (JROTC) Army.


    Purpose of CTE

    The purpose of Colonial Forge CTE is to develop more fully the academic and career and technical skills of secondary education students who elect to enroll in career and technical education programs by:

    1. exposing students to potential career paths and interests by providing opportunities for students to explore careers, interests and abilities;
    2. developing challenging academic and technical standards and assist students in meeting such standards, including preparation for high skill, high wage, or high demand occupations in current or emerging professions;
    3. promoting the development of services and activities that integrate rigorous and challenging academic and career and technical instruction to prepare students for post-graduation employment or postsecondary education;
    4. students earning industry-based certifications through state/national and industry assessments and/or licensure exams;
    5. and completing two sequential CTE courses that fulfill the elective requirements for graduation;
    6. offering students the ability to participate in Career and Technical Education Student Organizations (CTSOs) to enhance learning and student development.



    CTE courses prepare students for a wide range of high-skill and high-demand careers. reports high school students involved in CTE are more engaged, perform better, and graduate at higher rates.

    • 91 percent of high school graduates who earned two to three CTE credits enrolled in college.
    • The average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 93 percent, compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 80 percent.

    According to, about 12.5 million high school and college students are enrolled in CTE across the nation. “CTE prepares these learners for the world of work by introducing them to workplace competencies and makes academic content accessible to students by providing it in a hands-on context.”


    Career and Technical Education Student Organizations (CTSOs)

    CTSOs enhance student learning through contextual instruction, leadership and personal development, applied learning, and real-world application. They work as an integral component of the classroom curriculum and instruction, building on employability, and career skills and concepts through the application and engagement of students in hands-on demonstrations and real life and/or work experiences through a CTE program.

    CTSOs help guide students in developing a career path, a program of study—and provide opportunities in gaining the skills and abilities needed to be successful in those careers through CTSO activities, programs, and competitive events. In addition, students have opportunities to hold leadership positions at the local, state, and national levels and attend leadership development conferences to network with other students as well as business and industry partners.

    Learn more in the CTSO Reference Guide


    Available CTSOs through Colonial Forge CTE

    •          Technology Student Association (TSA)

    •          Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)

    •          HOSA-Future Health Professionals


    National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations

    The National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) is a coalition of national CTSOs serving CTE students and teachers in one or more of the 16 Career Clusters® identified in The National Career Clusters® Framework.


    Commonwealth of Virginia CTE Resource Center

    •          Virginia CTE Resource Center