Middle School Career and Technical Education

Middle School CTE provides an opportunity for all Maine middle school students to experience hands on learning, workplace skills and career exploration. In June of 2017 the legislature enacted law to expand career & technical education opportunities by requiring Maine Schools to provide access to developmentally-appropriate career and technical education for middle school students (grades 6-8). The Department and the legislature are working to provide adequate resources for this expansion.

CTE centers and regions will have the responsibility to oversee CTE programming. Middle schools & CTE centers/regions will be required to work together to design CTE programs for middle school students & be active partners in how these programs are structured, where they are offered & how the middle school standards will be met in the best interests of middle school students.  

The Law Requiring Middle School CTE

Public Law Chapter 171, "An Act To Enable Earlier Introduction of Career & Technical Education in Maine Schools," was enacted in June 2017 to expand career & technical education opportunities by requiring Maine Schools to provide access to developmentally-appropriate career and technical education for middle school students (grades 6-8).  Revision of Department of Education Rule Chapter 232, currently underway in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) process, will provide a framework to develop and implement middle school career & technical education. 

The Definition of Middle School CTE

Title 20-A, section §8301-A. Definitions. 2-A. Career and technical education.   "Career and technical education" means a course or program of education designed to create or improve job-related skills that is part of a secondary school or middle school level curriculum and approved by the commissioner according to this chapter. A school administrative unit shall make career and technical education available to persons residing in the school administrative unit who are eligible to receive free public secondary and middle school level education. 
[ 2017, c. 171, §2 (AMD) .]

§15672. Definitions - EPS As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings. {2003, c. 504, Pt. A, §6 (NEW.} 20. Middle School level.  "Middle school level" means grade 6 to grade 8. {2003, c. 504,  Pt. A, §6 NEW).}

§8301-A. Definitions 3-A. Middle school level.  "Middle school level" has the same meaning as in section 15672, subsection 20 {2017, c. 171, §4 (NEW).}

§15672. Definitions 1-D. Career & Technical Education Costs. "career and technical education costs" for subsidy purposes means all costs incurred by the career and technical education regions, centers or satellites in providing approved secondary school and middle school level career and technical education programs, excluding transportation, capital costs and debt service. 

The Development of Middle School CTE Programs

Middle School CTE programs will be developed by the CTE center and region in collaboration with the middle schools in their catchment area.  A CTE catchment area will have several middle school partners.  The CTE experience may differ per middle school. The Middle School CTE programs will be flexible enough to accommodate the diversity of the sending schools but have common, state developed standards to follow. This enables all students the opportunity to participate in an equitable MS CTE program.   The following is the criteria for a MS-CTE program: CTE experience (not CTE promotion/recruitment). 

  • Experience defined by:
    • CTE experience (not CTE promotion/recruitment)
    • Multiple program introduction
    • Multi- hour introduction
    • Adherence to MS-CTE standards
  • Collaboration with CTE school and middle school per law. 20-A MRSA §15688-A, 8
  • Adherence to MS-CTE standards
    • Developmentally appropriate hands-on skill experience
    • Safety training as needed
    • Workplace skills component (soft skills) OR be aligned to Life and Career Ready (LCR) standards
    • Career exploration component OR be aligned to (LCR) standards
    • Career pathway introduction OR be aligned to the (LCR) standards
    • Initial development of a career plan OR be aligned to the (LCR) standards requirement on a career plan                             
  • More than a one-time experience                                                    
    • Continuity increases participation and CTE selection.
    • Students need multiple exposures/introductions to experiences to enable decisions
    • Familiarity with school removes CTE "stigma"
  • Multiple avenues of access                                                   
    • At Middle School, CTE School & Community                                   
  • Flexible to serve all sending schools
    • Models can differ per CTE school                  
    • Models can differ per sending school in CTE catchment area
    • Models can differ per grade level

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The Collaborations

Each CTE school will partner with the sending middle schools in their catchment area and each middle school will participate in building the middle school programs that serve them.  The middle school catchment areas are determined by the same statute that governs the secondary CTE catchment areas found in Chapter 313 and State Board policy.  

Middle School Enrollments by CTE Catchment       


The Middle School CTE Standards

MDOE  has developed Middle School CTE standards.  They were  developed with input and discussion with the field that will be responsible for them. 

  1. Career Experience- (These three standards can be taught simultaneously)
    1. Technical skill experimentation (TSE)-students must participate in applied learning and hands-on activities that explore career related skills and interests.
    2. Safety Awareness (SA)- students must participate in safety training that ensures objectives can be met in a safe manner.
    3. Career Workplace Skills (CWS)-students must have exposure to common workplace interpersonal skills. (project based and soft skills)
  2. Career Discovery- (These two standards can be taught simultaneously)
    1. Career Research (CR)-students must explore the wide variety of career opportunities.
    2. Career Pathways (CP)- students must understand the connection between educational programs and careers.  


Margaret Harvey
Middle School CTE Specialist 
Phone: 207-441-2936
Email: margaret.harvey@maine.gov