But officials warned that those results weren't likely to be repeated in years to come, since the students added during the first year of the initiative likely represented “low-hanging fruit.”
Oklahoma higher education Chancellor Glen Johnson has said CareerTech has a key role to play in the state's completion efforts, since the professional certificates it awards count toward the overall completion goals.
The department is in a good position to contribute to those efforts, Sommers said. Students who go through career and technical education courses tend to have a greater idea of what they want to do if they go on to college, he said. That makes them more likely to eventually complete their degrees.
CareerTech also gives students the skills to go to work when they graduate from high school and eventually go to college without incurring as much debt as if they financed their education through student loans.
Career and technical education also gives students a practical application for what they learn elsewhere. They may learn math and science in other courses, he said, but CareerTech courses show them how that knowledge can be put to work in the real world.
“It gives a sense of purpose,” he said. “CareerTech brings education to life.”