Math in CTE

  • What is the Math-in-CTE model?
    The Math-in-CTE model is a curriculum integration model designed to enhance mathematics that is embedded in career and technical education (CTE) content. It is a process that provides the opportunity for math and CTE teacher teams to work together in communities of practice and to identify where math intersects with CTE concepts and applications. This process leads to the creation of math-enhanced CTE lessons that follow a seven-element pedagogic framework. Premised on five core principles, the research-based Math-in-CTE model has been shown to have a significant positive impact on student learning in mathematics with no loss to career and technical area content.

    The Core Principles

    There are five core principles which are needed for the successful implementation of the Math-in-CTE model. These principles are critical in the Math-in-CTE approach to improving the math skills of students.


    1. Develop and sustain a community of practice among the teachers.
    2. Begin with the CTE curriculum and not the math curriculum.
    3. Understand that math is an essential workplace skill.
    4. Maximize the math in the CTE curriculum.
    5. Recognize that CTE teachers are teachers of math-in-CTE, and not math teachers.


    The Math-in-CTE Model: A Process & A Pedagogy

    Implementation of the Math-in-CTE model requires a critical mass of CTE teachers from a specific career area. Examples of such areas include: Auto Technology, Health Sciences, and Business and Marketing. Each CTE teacher is partnered with a math teacher for extended professional development throughout the academic year. Math teacher partners are essential to the model because they serve as a resource to help career teachers with any math questions they may have and they provide valuable input for bridging the gap between academic and CTE worlds. The community of practice formed by these partnerships is vital to the success of the model.

    Professional Development: The Math-in-CTE model requires that CTE teachers and their math partners participate together in a series of workshops in which they learn the basics of the model and prepare for implementing the math-enhanced lessons into the CTE courses. The professional development consists of 10 total days throughout the year: five days in the summer prior to the start of school, two in the fall, two in the winter/spring and one final day at the end of the school year to reflect, celebrate, and plan for future work.Mapping the Curriculum: CTE-math teacher teams work together to interrogate the CTE curriculum and identify areas where the mathematics naturally occurs in the CTE content. In the Math-in-CTE model, math concepts are not forced into or superimposed on the CTE curriculum. Instead, the process always begins with the CTE concepts and applications to ensure the integrity of the curriculum as embedded math within it is enhanced.

    Creating Math-Enhanced Lessons: Once specific CTE concepts suitable for math enhancement are identified, the teacher teams begin the process of creating their lesson plans using a seven-element pedagogic framework.

    Developing a Scope and Sequence: The Math-in-CTE model is not a replacement curriculum; rather, it is a process of integration through which the mathematics in any existing CTE curriculum may be enhanced. Therefore, once the CTE concepts are identified and math-enhanced lessons are developed, each CTE teacher creates a personalized scope and sequence plan for scheduling and teaching the lessons when they should occur in his/her own curriculum.

    Teaching the Lessons: During the professional development sessions, CTE teachers are given opportunities to present and practice teaching the lessons with their peers. Prior to teaching these math-enhanced lesson plans in the classroom, the CTE and math teachers meet to discuss any math questions the CTE teacher may have, and to walk though the specific lesson that the CTE teacher will teach. The math teacher does not participate in teaching the lesson itself, but serves as a “behind the scenes” assistant in preparation. He/she helps the CTE teacher review the math procedures and bridge the vocabulary between the math and CTE contexts.

    Revising the Lessons: Once the CTE teachers have had the opportunity to teach the lessons, they often note ways in which the lessons can be improved. The fall and winter/spring professional development sessions provide time for teachers to critique the lessons and make changes in preparation for teaching the lessons again in the future. 

    NOTE: A brief research summary, the original study, Building Academic Skills in Context: Testing the value of Enhanced Math Learning in CTE (Final Report), a presentation by Dr. Donna Pearson at the 2008 ACTE Convention on Curriculum Integration and Math-in-CTE, a follow-up of the teachers who participated in the Math-in-CTE study, a one-page project in brief, a more in-depth description of the core principles and seven-element pedagogic framework of Math-in-CTE, curriculum maps and sample lesson plans can be found on the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education web site.