Career Technical Education in Kansas

In 2012, legislation (SB 155) launched a new plan to enhance career technical education (CTE) in Kansas with the purpose of better preparing high school students for college and careers. Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, Kansas high school students could qualify for free college tuition in approved technical courses offered at Kansas technical and community colleges. The program also initially provided school districts with a $1,000 incentive for each high school student who graduated from that district with an industry-recognized credential in a high-need occupation.

The 2015 Legislature changed the incentive to a prorated amount not to exceed $750,000 in total. During the 2016 Session, the appropriated amount decreased from $750,000 to $50,000 for fiscal year (FY) 2016 and FY 2017, which was estimated to cover the cost of the certification examinations only.

The 2017 Legislature moved the $50,000 incentive funds from the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) to the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) for FY 2018 and FY 2019. The amount changed over the next two years and then was deleted in FY 2020.

The appropriated amount for tuition was prorated in FY 2016 and FY 2017, as there was no increase in appropriations and the amount did not cover all program participants. The program was fully funded in FY 2018, FY 2019, and FY 2020.

Occupations on the qualifying credential incentive list can be found on the KBOR website. The list currently includes, but is not limited to, the following occupations:

  • Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers;
  • Computer support specialists;
  • Nursing assistants;
  • Automotive service technicians and mechanics;
  • Machinists;
  • Dental assistants;
  • Firefighters;
  • Carpenters;
  • Welders;
  • Electricians;
  • Plumbers and pipefitters;
  • Sheet metal workers; and
  • Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers.

Student Participation

Since the program’s inception, the number of students participating in postsecondary career technical education has grown, resulting in a growth of college credit hours generated and credentials earned by high school students. The following table, published on the KBOR website, summarizes the increase in participation over time per academic year (AY).

Student Participation in CTE

AY 2011AY 2012AY 2013AY 2014AY 2015AY 2016AY 2017AY 2018AY 2019AY 2020*
Participating Headcount3,4753,8706,1018,44010,27510,02310,66011,69013,67513,934
College Credit Hours Generated28,00028,16144,08762,19576,75679,48885,15092,092105,084109,226
Credentials Earned5487111,4191,6821,2241,4591,4201,8031,631
*preliminary numbers

National Recognition

In 2013, the Career Technical Education Initiative received national recognition as one of the “Top Ten Innovations to Watch” from The Brookings Institution. The same year, Martin Kollman of KSDE and Lisa Beck of KBOR published the article “Free CTE College Tuition and Certification Funding: KS SB 155 at Work” in the September issue of Techniques, a national monthly magazine published by the Association for Career and Technical Education.

Shirley Morrow, Principal Fiscal Analyst

Jessa Farmer, Research Analyst