December 22, 2020

New York State Comptroller's report of the State's Education Department's oversight of career training programs issued

On December 21, 2020 New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli issued an audit report focusing on the New York State Education Department [SED] oversight of New York's Career and Technical Education [CTE] programs. 

CTE programs that are intended to prepare high school students for future employment. The audit, however indicates that these CTE programs are often failing to ready students for jobs that are in demand, fast-growing, or pay higher wages.

The audit report indicates that during the 2018-19 school year, only 13 percent of students were enrolled in programs that closely aligned with occupations deemed highest in demand, growth and salary. Auditors determined that 57.5 percent of student enrollments were in approved programs geared to high-salary occupations, with the remaining 42.4 percent of students enrolled in programs that align with an occupation with a typical salary below the state average.

Auditors also found SED lacks sufficient employee resources to monitor CTE programming in the state. SED focuses on review of CTE program applications and the administration of federal grants, but does not perform routine visits to program locations or monitor program-level performance. As a result, the report concludes that SED's oversight activities are insufficient for assessing how programs are performing.

DiNapoli’s auditors also found:

a. SED has not established any requirements or issued guidance to address scheduling barriers for students trying to meet educational requirements while also accommodating CTE courses.

b. The majority of locations (78 percent) visited said that attracting, hiring and retaining certified teachers with industry experience to instruct CTE programs is impeded by a prolonged certification application process, inadequate salaries, and stringent educational requirements.

c. Approved program course curriculum and articulation agreements with post-secondary programs are not developed using a centralized approach. There is no single CTE curriculum for comparable programs at different locations, and, as a result, different standards may be required depending on the school district or BOCES where the student takes the CTE program

d. SED cannot accurately determine the number of endorsed graduates each year and does not have assurance that students have met the academic and industry standards of the respective CTE program for which they received an endorsement.

State Comptroller DiNapoli recommended SED take the following actions:

a. Ensure approved and local CTE programs, as well as student enrollments, align with state workforce needs and meet the career goals of secondary school students;

b. Take the steps necessary to monitor CTE program-level performance as well as the accuracy and consistency of data submitted by school districts and BOCES;

c. Assess whether the funding provided for CTE-related activities is sufficient to support high-quality CTE programs;

d. Work with schools to ensure they are adequately promoting, supporting, and teaching CTE programs;

e. Review and update CTE regulations to ensure alignment with state law;

f. Work with schools and BOCES to standardize CTE curriculum; and

g. Provide additional guidance to schools, school districts and BOCES regarding the application of CTE program requirements to ensure there is a clear and consistent process to record and report accurate CTE-related information.

SED, however, generally disagreed with the audit’s findings. SED’s response is included in the audit.

Click here to access the full text of the Audit Report: State Education Department: Oversight of Career and Technical Education Programs in New York State Schools