This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Students in career and technical education (CTE) programs take a competency exam in their field during their senior year. It’s called the NOCTI, or National Occupational Competency Testing Institute, and it provides one tool for judging the quality of a CTE program.
Overall, the pass rate in Philadelphia schools on NOCTI exams was about 70 percent in 2015.
For the first time this fall, the Notebook obtained and published NOCTI competency rates school-by-school for its annual high school guide. Here you find a more detailed breakdown of the results for Philadelphia schools.
The first thing to notice is that the numbers of students taking the exams varies widely from program to program and school to school.
Few of the schools offering multiple CTE programs of study have high competency scores across the board. Standout schools include Randolph, which gives the NOCTI exam in seven areas and had competency rates above the District’s 70 percent average in every area. Franklin Learning Center and George Washington also have high pass rates, but they each offer the NOCTI exam in only two subjects.
South Philadelphia High School gives the NOCTI exam for eight different programs of study, with an overall pass rate of 86 percent.
More typical of citywide results was Mastbaum High School, where 100 percent of students passed the NOCTI exam in Health-Related Technologies, but only 39 percent demonstrated competency in Automotive Technology. The overall pass rate was 69 percent.
The differing results among schools offering the same program are striking. For example, four schools in addition to Mastbaum – Edison, Franklin Learning Center, King, and South Philadelphia – saw all their Health-Related Technologies students pass the NOCTI exam, but at Lincoln High School, only 21 percent (3 out of 14 students) passed that test.
And there are programs where no school is up to standards. Two schools – Bartram and Roxborough – offered a Web Design program, but no student at either school passed the competency exam.