The Career and Technical Education program connects careers with education. CTE broadly encompasses six service areas: agriculture, food and natural resources; applied sciences, technology, engineering, and manufacturing; business, finance, marketing and management; health science; human services; and information solutions.
Career and Technical Education in Iowa
On May 26, 2016, Governor Branstad signed into law House File 2392, setting a new vision for students in Iowa to graduate from high school ready for college and career training. The legislation was built upon recommendations released by the Secondary Career and Technical Education (CTE) Task Force and marked the first major revision to CTE policy in Iowa since 1989. The legislation focused on building Iowa’s talent pipeline so that more Iowans would have quality career education and opportunities thus supporting the Future Ready Iowa goal that 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce have education and training beyond high school by 2025. This work, along with the Iowa State Perkins V Plan, lay the framework for Iowa Quality CTE (IQCTE).
Career and Technical Education (CTE) in Iowa includes educational programs offering a sequence of courses that prepare individuals for employment in current or emerging occupations. Programs include competency-based applied learning, which contributes to an individual’s academic knowledge, higher-order reasoning and problem-solving skills, work attitudes, general employability skills, and occupational-specific skills.
At the secondary level, CTE programs are organized within six broad service areas, as defined in Iowa Code section 256.11, subsection 5, paragraph “h.”
The service areas are:
- agriculture. food, and natural resources
- arts, communications, and information systems
- applied sciences, technology, engineering, and manufacturing, including transportation, distribution, logistics, architecture, and construction
- health sciences
- human services
- business, finance, marketing, and management
Each service area has state approved standards as of 2019
State law requires schools to offer 4 of the 6 service areas to their students under Chapter 12 “offer and teach” requirements.
There are 3 units of instruction required for each program of study. One unit of instruction may be shared between programs.
Teachers must have a CTE endorsement in the area they are teaching.
If your district is adding a new CTE program offering, please use the New Program Notification Form to inform consultants at the Department of Education.
Program Approval is completed on a five year rotating basis in Region 4 and 12. The schedule for Program Reviews requiring the completion of Self-Studies is below:
2021-2022 Health Science (will be submitted to DE Nov. 2022)
Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security & Fire Science
2022-2023 Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources: (submitted to DE Nov. 2018)
2023-2024 Applied Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing: (submitted to DE Nov. 2019)
Architecture and Construction
Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
2024-2025 Human Services: (submitted to DE Nov. 2020)
Education and Training
Hospitality and Tourism (Culinary)
Government and Public Administration
2025-2026 Business, Finance, Marketing, and Management & Arts, Communication, and Information Technology (will be submitted to DE Nov. 2021)
Business, Management, and Administration
Arts, Communication, and Information Technology
Arts, Audio/Video Technology, and Communications
Below are some resources provided by the Department of Education to assist with this process:
- Secondary Career and Technical Education Program Self-Study Template
- Program Self-Study Regional Planning Partnership Supplemental Materials
- CTE Shared Programs Memo
- Self-Study Best Practices
- Google Link Share Settings
Additional Perkins V sources districts may need:
- Secondary Iowa Perkins V Performance Indicators Handout.pdf
- Allowable and Unallowable Costs
- Middle School Requirements
- Perkins Equipment Disposition Form
Advisory councils provide meaningful feedback to educators on the design, implementation, evaluation, maintenance, and revision of program curriculum and training equipment.
Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment
Perkins V introduced the requirement for districts and consortiums to complete a Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA) every two years. 2020 was the first year this process was completed. In the spring of 2021 Iowa CLNA Regional Phase Worksheets were completed within each of our Regional Planning Partnerships.
Work-based Learning is now one of the performance measures our CTE programs are accountable for under Perkins V. It is an essential component in the 21st century classroom. It provides real-world, hands-on work to students and supports the relevance of classroom lessons. Work-based learning not only enables students to explore and engage with various careers, it teaches them the all-important professional skills needed by industry.
Getting Started with Work-Based Learning
The suggestions listed below are intended to provide ideas for districts wanting to get started in WBL. It is not intended to suggest that a district must do all of the things listed.
- Maximize student Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) in your district.
- Connect with your Intermediary for work-based learning activities in your region.
- Take advantage of the free, on-demand career videos to enhance classroom learning. All of the career videos are connected to career and technical education standards.
- Consider who will coordinate work-based learning activities at your school.
- Connect your teachers to authentic projects through the Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning.
- Review the Iowa Work-Based Learning Guide
- Start an apprenticeship program at your school
Registered Apprenticeship Playbook – A guide to understanding the different components of apprenticeship programs.
Earn and Learn Iowa Website – Provides information on how to start an apprenticeship program.
High School Internships
Internships provide students with a hands-on opportunity to develop career and professional skills with an industry partner in a workplace setting.
- Iowa Internship Toolkit – Highlights key components of a high-quality internship program to prepare students for success in postsecondary education, training and careers.
- High School Internship Guidance – Provides information on designing various types of internship opportunities and support for students participating in internships.
- Sample Training Plan – A template that can be used as an evaluation tool for an internship program.
- Sample Training Agreement – An example of a contract to be signed before a student participates in an internship.
- Multioccupations Endorsement – An endorsement designed for those who supervise students in on-the-job situations such as cooperative education programs and school-to-work programs.
For the most recent and up-to-date information from the Iowa Department of Education, please visit: