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Career and Technical Education

Career and Technical Education (CTE) in Rhode Island is designed to provide students with the academic and experiential skills they need to be successful in the workforce and in further education.

Career and Technical Education is a component of PrepareRI, an initiative intended to support programs that will prepare all Rhode Island youth with the skills they need for the jobs that pay. Career and Technical Education programs consist of three or more courses which will help students earn an industry credential and prepare them to enter the workforce. Rhode Island’s CTE programs are located in all high schools, postsecondary institutions, adult skills training facilities, or CTE centers across the state and are rigorously equipped to prepare youths and adults for a range of high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand careers.


    Who is CTE designed for? 

    Career and Technical education is designed for all students, regardless of if they choose to enter the workforce and/or a post-secondary education program after graduating from high school. With more than 10 career and technical education centers, 54 high schools, charter schools, and post-secondary institutions and adult programs in the network, Rhode Island learners have unprecedented access to a broad array of educational programs to suit all academic and career aspirations.

  • Career Exploration CTE helps learners discover the wide-range of career options available to them and assess the most effective and efficient educational pathways for optimum value and success.
  • Enhanced educational experience – CTE provides students with an engaging, relevant education that reduces dropout rates and supports student achievement. For many learners, applying technical and academic skills to real-world activities in a hands-on learning experience makes CTE classes more interesting, engaging, and motivating than standard academic classes.

  • Freedom to explore career possibilities – CTE enables students to have the freedom of choice in building their own CTE experience, such as through choice in: schools to attend, career paths to map, work-based learning experiences to pursue, and extracurricular activities to partake in.

  • Networking through partnerships - CTE programs work directly with business and industry in partnership to ensure that the CTE programs are developing people with the skills, credentials, and technical knowledge necessary to move Rhode Island toward the leading edge of innovation and global competitiveness.

  • Reduced college tuition costs – CTE programs have the potential to reduce a student’s college tuition costs, dependent on the completion of college courses for credit and/or the acquisition of an industry-approved credential which providers CTE learners with a competitive advantage for future post-secondary placement.

  • Workforce developmentCTE contributes to the development of a skilled, sustainable workforce that is well-prepared for the high-demand, high-skill and high-paying jobs of today and tomorrow.

Click here to see the 2020-2021 RIDE APPROVED CTE Programs

To explore and learn more about current CTE programs for SY 20-21, families should visit EnrollRI to search for a CTE program by program name, high school, or career field:

CTE Program Requirements

CTE Programs are required to:

  • include a series of at least three interrelated courses;
  • allow students to earn a pathway endorsement upon successful completion by integrating the school’s proficiency based graduation assessment with the pathway programming.

CTE Board of Trustees--Members & Meetings

The CTE Board of Trustees advises the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Education about creating a system of career and technical education that prepares students to meet the evolving needs of Rhode Island's employers. CTE Board Meetings are public.


CTE Program Standards

CTE Regulations

The Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education approved and adopted, effective July 1, 2012, the Board of Regents Regulations Governing Career and Technical Education (CTE) in Rhode Island, which supersedes all previous rules and regulations pertaining to career and technical education and vocational education.  

CTE Program Approval Process

Note—Because of the unprecedented challenges that Covid-19 has placed on Career and Technical Education, at large, RIDE has made the difficult decision to pause CTE program approval for the 2020-21 school year.  

Ordinarily, RIDE releases a CTE program approval process each year for new state-approved programs. These programs, designed to prepare students for college and/or careers after high school, may be proposed by any public high school in the state and can be accessed by all Rhode Island students regardless of their home districts. All programs would then submit an application. Once received, programs that meet all requirements will be presented to the CTE Board during one of its monthly meetings for review and approval. RIDE will then make final approval decisions and provide formal notification to programs.  


RIDE hopes to open a CTE program approval process for the 2021-22 school year. Please check back regularly for updates.  


In the meantime, please direct your questions regarding the CTE Program Approval Process to the Office of College and Career Readiness at CTE@ride.ri.gov.  


Governor’s Workforce Board Priority Sectors

The Rhode Island Governor’s Workforce Board (GWB) is the governing body charged with the continuous improvement of the workforce system and oversight of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds and programs. GWB’s Board consists of industry leaders from across the state who are appointed by the Governor to oversee workforce development activities statewide. Local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) fall under the auspices of GWB, which is part of the PrepareRI umbrella. GWB also has a seat on the CTE Board to further ensure alignment between the CTE Board and the workforce investment boards. 

Because CTE programs strive to prepare students for success in life and employment in Rhode Island. This means identifying career fields and skills aligned to Rhode Island's industries and economy. In approving programs, and in distributing resources such as state categorical funding, RIDE prioritizes programs that address critical industry sectors in Rhode Island, as identified by the Department of Labor and Training in conjunction with the Rhode Island Department of Commerce and adopted by the Governor's Workforce Board. Currently, the following sectors are identified as Priority Sectors: 


  • Bioscience
  • Business (as support for all sectors)
  • Construction
  • Defense
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Industrial Design
  • Informational Technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Marine Trades

In 2019, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation engaged New Localism Associates, City Facilitators, and Qvartz to assess the performance of the state’s advanced economy between 2016 and 2019. Read Rhode Island Innovates 2.0 to learn how the priority sectors listed above were identified 

Rhode Island Perkins V Plan

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) was signed into law on July 31, 2018. This bipartisan measure reauthorized the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV) and continued Congress’ commitment in providing nearly $1.3 billion annually for career and technical education (CTE) programs for our nation’s youth and adults.

Perkins V represents an important opportunity to expand opportunities for every student to explore, choose, and follow career and technical education programs of study and career pathways to earn credentials of value.

In the summer of 2019, RIDE and the CTE Board hosted a series of meetings to engage educators, student advocates, industry, and community partners across the state in order to develop the Rhode Island Perkins V Plan for 2020-2025. Therefore, this State Plan, officially approved on June 26, 2020, reflects feedback from all relevant stakeholders.

View the State Plan

Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment

One of the most significant changes introduced in Perkins V is the new Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment (CLNA or Needs Assessment). All recipients must demonstrate strong local industry, student interest, and community support to be eligible for Perkins funds. The CLNA is the mechanism by which CTE programs will use to demonstrate this demand. 

The purpose of the Needs Assessment is to align planning, spending, and accountability activities under Perkins V to support high-quality CTE programs. As part of the Rhode Island CTE program approval process, applicants must first submit a Needs Assessment to inform the local application. The program approval application due afterward will build on this work and explain how the program will address the needs identified in the Needs Assessment. Any gap areas identified through the development of the Needs Assessment will directly align to the goals and action steps found within the RI Local Application. 

All Rhode Island LEAs that have approved CTE programs completed their CLNAs during the summer of 2020.  

Under Perkins V regulations, LEAs are required to update and submit a Needs Assessment “not less than once every 2 years.” Therefore, RIDE will post guidance and information for LEAS on the next iteration of Needs Assessments by early summer of 2022.

In the meantime, please check out the previous cycle's CLNA to learn more:

CTE Funding

Grant Opportunities

The Rhode Island Perkins V Plan expanded the Perkins Reserve Fund, which RIDE will use for competitive grant programs to advance key priorities. LEAs and/or post-secondary institutions may apply for these opportunities.  

Please check back soon for potential application information, including eligibility and timelines, for the following grant opportunities:

Perkins V Funding

Rhode Island will release an annual application for Perkins Funding. This application will include a narrative application, required evidence, and budget. The application’s focus is how the program will use the funds to meet the CTE Board Standards and prepare students for career success. RIDE and the CTE Board are focused on maximizing the return on investment (ROI) of Perkins dollars on student outcomes.

CTE Funding Model

In addition to federal Perkins dollars, RIDE further supports CTE programs with Rhode Island state CTE Categorical Funding. To encourage growth in Priority Sectors, starting in FY19, CTE Categorical Funds are only generated by, and used for, programs in Priority Sectors. Programs receiving CTE Categorical Funds will report on the use of their funds to RIDE and the CTE Board on a quarterly basis.

CTE Program Equipment Fund

This fund is prioritized for CTE Centers to offset equipment costs in programs that engage students in high-wage-high-demand sectors. While RIDE has not issued this fund for FY 20 and FY 21, RIDE may issue a competitive application for the Equipment Fund in the future. Please check back for updates.

CTE Teacher Certification

Partnerships and Information


PrepareRI is an initiative to prepare all Rhode Island youth with the skills they need for jobs that pay. It represents a strategic partnership between the Rhode Island government, private industry leaders, the public education system, universities, and non-profits across the state. PrepareRI launched in 2016, after Rhode Island was awarded a New Skills for Youth grant from JPMorgan Chase and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

Student Organizations

Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSOs) are extracurricular clubs for students in a CTE pathway to further their knowledge and skills by participating in activities, events, and competitions.

Rhode Island offers the following CTSOs:


Information & Resources

The following resources and organizations offer a national perspective on CTE, including the latest research and best practices around implementation and support. 


Career Coordinators

Career Coordinators


Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, RIDE encouraged all high schools to designate a "Career Coordinator." They are a vital link to business/industry/community resources and opportunities that support and enhance classroom learning and work-based learning in their respective schools. Work-based learning is a critical component of a student’s pathway and encompasses activities that provide students with real-life or simulated work experiences. 

Career Coordinators create opportunities for a school’s faculty, staff and administrators to gain knowledge about Rhode Island’s businesses, industries, community-based organizations, post-secondary institutions and the various career clusters in order to provide meaningful work-based learning experiences for all students. 

They also serve as a liaison for teachers to business, industry, post-secondary institutions and the community by developing and supporting partnerships with interested groups and/or individuals. Career Coordinators are focused on ensuring students' readiness for success during their WBL experiences and on their future career pathways. 

Contact information for SY 21-22 Career Coordinators

Work-based Learning

As a means to strengthen the academic performance of all students, work-based learning provides students with real-life work experiences where they can apply and develop their academic, technical, and professional skills. Career Coordinators engage school faculty, staff, administrators, parents and business in a process to understand the importance of integrating work-based learning opportunities into all classes. By accessing and providing information, materials, resources and expertise about work-based learning programs, projects, professional development, and special events Career Coordinators assist their respective school with the integration of work-based learning opportunities and career awareness activities throughout the curriculum.

Work-based projects and activities include


  • Internships: Positions for students or trainees to work in an organization, with or without pay, to gain work experience, satisfy requirements for a credential, and/or gain course credit. 
  • Apprenticeships: Highly formal job training experience that involves studying with a master of the trade on the job. 
  • Service-learning Project: A program or project which combines community service with an outside organization with a structured opportunity for reflection about the service, emphasizing the connections between service experiences and academic learning. 
  • School-based Enterprise: Students produce and sell goods or services in the school and learn about business skills and entrepreneurship. This ma be part of an entrepreneurship course, and a business professional may serve as a mentor and advisor for the enterprise.
  • Industry Project: Individual, group, or class-wide projects in which students address a real-world, industry focused question or problem with the guidance of industry professionals. 

2021-22 Meeting Information:

Quick Links to Materials and Resources:

Contact Paul Williams for questions and/or more information:



CTE is part of PrepareRI, a statewide initiative 
to build career pathways for all Rhode Island youth. 
Learn more about PrepareRI at www.prepare-ri.org.