Career and Technical Education

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two biomedical science students smiling and posing. The male student is wearing a striped shirt and the female student is wearing a black top. They both have gloves on.

What is Career and Technical Education?

Career and technical education (CTE) provides students with the academic and technical skills, knowledge and training necessary to succeed in future careers and develop skills they will use throughout their careers. CTE prepares students 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. CTE is a great way for students to explore a variety of career options early and earn industry certifications prior to graduation.

CTE News and Highlights

  • Student Success Measure - Career and technical education continue to see strong participation rates in high school. 72% of 2021 high school graduates enrolled in CTE courses during high school, and 44% completed a CTE program. Colorado’s CTE programs deliver proven pathways to career success through rigorous, career-connect courses and programs.
     A total of 2,172 graduates in 2021 completed a postsecondary credential in high school, representing 3.5% of the graduating class. Nearly all racial and ethnic groups increased in dual enrollment participation. Research shows those who participate in programs that offer college courses in high school are more likely to enroll in postsecondary education.

  • Denver Public Schools recently installed a new ambulance simulator helping students prepare for EMT certifications! Check out the article to learn more about this amazing advancement!

  • DPS' McAuliffe International School has received recognition from PLTW as a 2023-24 'Distinguished Gateway School', which recognizes schools across the U.S. for their efforts to provide broad access to transformative learning experiences for students through PLTW Gateway programs, a grade 6-8 STEM curriculum.

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DPS East students at a robotics competition in utah where they won first place

DPS Career and Technical Education gives students early exposure to thousands of career options as they learn more about their own passions and interests.

We take those interests and nurture them. With access to hundreds of exploration opportunities, students visit work sites in a field they want to know more about and talk to professionals. Students take the skills learned in the classroom and apply them on the job through shadowing, internships and apprenticeship opportunities. Our goal is to help students identify their passions, explore what they love doing and make a career out of it through intentional planning. Career and Technical Education is a transformative approach to preparing students to be successful in college and their future career, and it’s another way DPS is redesigning the high school experience.

This is learning made real, and your bright future starts here.

Frequently Asked Questions

School Based Programs - Search by School

With a focus on Colorado’s most in-demand industries, DPS offers hundreds of career-related courses at many levels — from introductory all the way to college-level classes. Through engaging, hands-on projects, students learn critical thinking skills and are empowered to generate solutions. Projects encompass real work — from building a graphic design portfolio to dusting objects for fingerprints in forensic science labs.

Students work with their counselor, teachers and parents to take these early sparks of interest and develop them into an Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP).

three students work on their fully functional robot  at their desk.

two girls smiling next to a medical prop skeleton

Explore Pathway Programs

Students take the skills and insights learned in school, and step outside of the classroom to “try on” different careers. DPS offers many on-the-job training opportunities at various levels of depth, with job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships. Some of these opportunities are even paid!

This culture of learning gives students an idea of what employers will expect of them, and what it takes to be successful in college and their career. Students not only expand their professional networks, but can even earn money while learning through paid opportunities.

CTE and Your School Journey

male student working on an audio mixing soundboard while wearing headphones

The Denver Public School Career Readiness Capstone (Career Capstone) is a competency-based graduation option for students to demonstrate career readiness. Students who complete the Career Readiness Capstone are equipped with the knowledge, experience, and credentials to access in-demand, livable-wage careers. The Career Capstone is designed to be accessible to all students enrolled in district-approved CTE pathways. 

2 students work together in construction class. Male student is handing female student small screws while she is holding a power drill

DPS requires all students to graduate having a plan for after high school that is meaningful to them. Students will work with their counselors, teachers and families to develop and complete their personalized Individual Career and Academic Plans (ICAPs). Through this personalized career and academic planning process, students are empowered to learn about themselves and evaluate their path to success by exploring career and college options. ICAPs are also commonly aligned with a student’s CTE pathway curriculum.

three students examining different liquids in their biomedical class

DPS uses RIASEC to help students understand their career interests. RIASEC stands for 6 characteristics: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. The RIASEC test asks questions about your aspirations, activities, skills, and interests in different jobs to help you discover careers and fields of study that are likely to satisfy you. Your RIASEC results can also help inform your decision about which CTE pathway is likely best suited for you and your interests.

If you have any questions about Career and Technical Education in Denver Public Schools, please email Career and Technical Education Team.