Frequently Asked Questions

For Families and Parents

What is Xello?

Xello is a career development resource teachers, students, and counselors use to facilitate the career development process for students. It includes career and self-assessments, labor market information, resume building features, employability lessons, and career and college planning tools. Contact us if you have more questions.

I’m not happy with my child’s career assessment results. What can I do?

Career assessments provide an opportunity for self-reflection and conversation. Some good questions to ask your child are, “What is it about that career that would be fun? What is it that you wouldn’t like? Why do you think the career assessment matched you with that career? What would be the challenges of working in that job? What careers get you more of what you enjoy with less negatives?” Then you can encourage you and your child can save careers to their profile that are more aligned to their strengths, interests, preferences, and needs.

Can you discourage my child from being a professional athlete/actor/social media influencer?

Rather than discouraging a career, we want to encourage the student to think deeply about their passion and commitment and what steps they need to take to make their dream a reality. We also encourage all students to create career backup plans in Xello.

Does my child’s IEP apply in CTE classes?

Yes, IEP’s are honored in CTE classes just like they are in other classes.

Does it cost money to take CTE classes?

No, there are no required class fees for CTE. There may be costs associated with some optional industry field trips or career and technical student organizations (i.e.- DECA, FBLA, FCCLA, FFA, HOSA, SkillsUSA, TSA). Contact your child’s school if the cost to participate in a CTE extended learning opportunity is preventing their participation.

My child is focused on getting a 4-year college degree, should they take CTE classes?

Yes! Students who complete a CTE pathway in high school actually have higher post-secondary attainment rates, meaning they earn college degrees! CTE can help students be more intentional about the colleges, majors, and degree programs they choose. It can also help students get a head start on applying academic core and STEM knowledge to real-world work situations.

Can my child get honors credit in CTE?

It depends on the course. Some courses are only offered at the honors level, while others may have the option to earn honors credit by completing a more rigorous version of the curriculum.

How is CTE funded?

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, commonly referred to as Perkins V, provides the federal funding and sets the program objectives, regulations, and accountability standards for CTE. On top of federal funding, state funding provides money for CTE teachers and staff salaries and benefits, supplies and instructional software and technology, professional development for CTE staff, and other program expenses. Lastly, local funding offers increased flexibility to pay for expenses where we cannot use federal or state funds, like facility repairs and improvements.

What is a CDC?

Career Development Coordinators (CDCs) are responsible for facilitating students’ career development, career coaching, supporting work-based learning, building partnerships with community employers, and collaborating with school counselors and other student services staff to support career and college readiness initiatives. Each traditional high school has a full-time CDC.

What does the CTE Student Support Specialist do?

Also referred to as the SPC, the CTE Student Support Specialist coordinates programs and support services for the eight federally mandated CTE special populations. Among others, this includes individuals with disabilities, individuals from economically disadvantaged families, individuals preparing for non-traditional career fields, single parents, English learners, homeless individuals, military-connected youth, and youth who are in, or have aged out of, the foster care system. Services include recruitment, placement, and retention in CTE pathways of special populations; coaching CTE teachers in diversifying instructional methods to meet the needs of special populations; facilitating the career development of special populations; collaborating with the exceptional children and student services departments; and partnering with community resources like vocational rehabilitation to support CTE special populations. Each high school has a CTE Student Support Specialist.

For Students

Can I take honors-level CTE courses?

Yes, there are some courses available. CDCs and school counselors can help identify which CTE courses offer honors credit. You can also refer to the Xello to find honors CTE courses.

Why should I participate in a career student organization?

Career and Technical Student Organizations (DECA, FBLA, FCCLA, FFA, HOSA, SkillsUSA, and TSA) provide an opportunity to further develop career and leadership skills. You can compete and serve in leadership positions, giving you more experience and accolades to build your resume and college and scholarship applications. Many CTSOs also provide opportunities for scholarships as well. CTSO activities can occur during class time as well.

What is work-based learning?

Work-based learning is a range of experiences that help develop your awareness, exploration, and preparation of careers, occupations, and industries. They all involve connecting you with community employers. They can include everything from informational interviews and job shadowing to internships and apprenticeships. Talk to your Career Development Coordinator (CDC) to learn more.

What if there’s not a CTE pathway program at my school that aligns to my career goals?

Unfortunately, we cannot offer programs for every occupation available. But, many occupations share similar skills and foundational knowledge. Chances are that there is a CTE pathway that at least relates to your career goals. Through work-based learning and classroom projects that involve student choice you can choose to focus on careers that more closely align with your goals. To find related CTE pathways, use the career cluster search feature on the Find Your Path page and select career clusters that may be related to your goals. For example, if you want to be an electrician you may select Architecture and Construction or Manufacturing. You can also use O*Net’s occupation keyword search to discover related occupations and find connections to CTE pathways that are available.

What if I don’t know what I want to do for a career?

That’s okay! Now is the perfect time to start researching careers. Start by taking career assessments in Xello. Your assessment results can provide a springboard for thinking about which careers you may be interested in. Consider the potential earnings for those careers, the demand for them, and education and training required. Do the earnings support the lifestyle you hope to achieve? How hard will it be to get a job in that career? Will I have to move? How much further education is required and is that something I want to do? Reflect on your strengths, interests, preferences, and needs and then save careers to your Xello profile. Then talk to your school’s career development coordinator (CDC) or school counselor to discover ways you can learn more about your saved careers in Xello.

How do I get articulated credit for the CTE courses I took?

Several high school CTE courses articulate to community colleges. This means that the community college will give you credit if you pass and meet certain requirements. This can potentially save you and your family time and money and prevent you from taking a community college course where you already learned the knowledge and skills in high school. Review the articulated credit information on the Dual-Credit page and when you enroll in the community college be sure to advocate for yourself to receive the articulated credit. You can link back to our Dual-Credit page in email communication with admissions staff.

How can I take Johnston Community College courses?

North Carolina’s Career and College Promise (CCP) program allows high school students to take community college courses. If the Johnston Community College course offers enough credit, then you may even be able to earn high school credit and college credit at the same time, potentially saving you and your family money! Most of the CTE pathway profiles in the Find Your Path tool of this website include links to related CTE and college transfer pathways available through CCP. You may even be eligible to start taking CCP courses as a 9th or 10th grade student! Be on the lookout for information about CCP and talk to your school counselor or career development coordinator (CDC) to learn more!

How do I become a CTE concentrator?

A CTE concentrator is a student who completes a CTE pathway. This typically involves taking 2-3 courses in the pathway. Once you’ve successfully passed a level II or level III course you are a CTE concentrator. Use your 9th and 10th grade to take a few introductory or level I courses. Once you find a CTE pathway you enjoy and want to pursue, then update your Course Plan in Xello by finding the specialization/pathway and adding it to your 4-year plan. Be sure to register for the courses and talk to your school counselor or career development coordinator (CDC) to make sure it will be included in your course requests for the next school year.

For Employers

How are CTE pathway programs selected to be offered?

Unfortunately we cannot offer CTE pathways for all occupations and industries. Several factors contribute to the decision of which pathways we are able to offer. These include: 1) regional labor market demand; 2) student interest; 3) school facilities and cost limitations; and 4) availability of qualified teachers in the field. Fortunately, our CTE pathways can often provide instruction and increase awareness of related-career fields. Additionally, work-based learning programs like CTE Internship, Pre-Apprenticeships, and Apprenticeships offer opportunities to augment what we cannot feasible provide as a traditional CTE pathway program. Lastly, by partnering with Johnston Community College through North Carolina’s Career and College Promise (CCP) program students also have the opportunity to take CTE courses at JCC further augmenting our own CTE pathway programs. If you have ideas or further questions please contact us.

What is work-based learning?

Work-based learning is a range of experiences that help develop students’ awareness and exploration of, and preparation for, careers, occupations, and industries. They all involve connecting you with students to enhance their career development. Work-based learning can include everything from industry field trips and job shadowing to internships and apprenticeships. We rely on employer partners to provide work-based learning for students. Ready to get involved? Register as an employer-partner in our Work-Based Learning system today or contact us to learn more.

Can you help me recruit for my job openings?

Typically yes! As long as you are recruiting students of all genders, races, ethnicities, religions, etc., then we are able to share job opportunities with students. Email your nearest high school’s career development coordinator (CDC) with the job posting and recruitment information.

How can I host a CTE intern?

CTE Internships allow students to earn high school credit while participating in a structured, on-the-job learning program. We encourage employers to pay CTE interns, but it is not a requirement. To learn more check out the Work-Based Learning page, register in our Work-Based Learning system, and consider emailing the nearest high school’s career development coordinator (CDC).

What is a Pre-Apprenticeship?

Pre-Apprenticeships provide opportunities for students to explore an apprenticeship opportunity before committing. They also prepare students for an apprenticeship and provide a recruitment ground for apprenticeship positions. Pre-Apprenticeships are highly flexible and can include everything from simple exploration experiences to more involved programs with required training and on-the-job work experience. They are registered with ApprenticeshipNC and it is required that there is an approved, registered apprenticeship on file as well. Learn more at ApprenticeshipNC. If you’re interested in establishing a Pre-Apprenticeship please contact us.

What are you doing to teach employability/transferable/durable/“soft” skills?

CTE recognizes that the most in-demand skills from employers are what we call professionalism skills- self-management, getting along with others, integrity and responsibility, organizational skills, etc. These are also some of the most difficult skills to teach and attitudes to instill. While these skills are first taught at home and established during early childhood, we recognize that we also have the opportunity to help students develop these essential skills.

There’s no silver bullet that will equip all students with all of the professionalism skills they need to be successful in the workplace, so we rely on an array of strategies to meet this need. Some strategies include: 1) engaging social/emotional skill development strategies (most SEL skills correlate to employer-demanded professionalism skills); 2) Conover workplace readiness training and certifications; 3) Rubin college and career readiness training resources and tools; 4) JOCO Works Pro- a professionalism skills conference for 10th grade students; 5) career and technical student organizations (CTSOs); 6) Xello’s k-12 career development lessons; 7) work-based learning; 8) middle school CTE exploration programs; and 9) professional development for CTE teachers in promoting professionalism skills in the classroom.

Additionally, character education and recognition programs help to promote character traits that allow students to be successful both in and off the job.

How does CTE support early-stage career development?

We know that if we’ve waiting until high school to start career development then we are too late. Career development is a lifelong process that starts in early childhood and continues throughout the lifespan. We have partnered with elementary schools and our colleagues in Federal Programs and Student Services to provide Xello Elementary for k-5 students to begin increasing their awareness of careers, developing a career vocabulary, and engaging in social/emotional learning activities that promote career development like self-awareness and building a link in schooling and future success. We recently have begun identifying opportunities to partner with school librarians to provide resources, tools, and strategies to support career development.

Middle school students can start taking CTE exploratory programs in agriculture, business, computer science, family and consumer sciences, and technology and engineering. We have also installed nine Career Investigations Labs in JCPS middle schools where students rotate through hands-on/minds-on career exploration stations in grades 6-8. Middle school students can also begin joining career student organizations like FFA, FBLA, FCCLA, and TSA. Lastly, 6th grade students start developing the foundation of what will become their Career Development Plan (CDP). The CDP foundation should be established by the time the student enters high school where it is then refined and expanded as students engage in the career development process.