CTAE graduation rate increases over 14% this year


Christopher Bunker

The diploma. Throughout high school, students work extremely diligently to ensure their success in the future. Through CTAE Pathways, students have the opportunity to personalize their learning and sneak a preview of what their future diploma might consist of.

Shree Delwadia, Editor-In-Chief

The Georgia Department of Education, GADOE, strives for its students’ excellence in the upcoming future. Students throughout the state have the opportunity to participate in over 100 Career and Technical Education (CTAE) Pathways which prepare them for any future they might want to pursue. These pathways consist of a set of elective classes students are required to take and connecting organizations that students can get involved in. Recently, the GADOE announced that the CTAE graduation rate has increased by about 14.5%, making the state graduation rate for this program 96.5%. 

This new graduation rate applies to students who finish their chosen pathway by graduation. In Georgia, the public high schools offer a variety of pathways ranging from Pharmacy to Fashion and Design. At South Forsyth High School, some of the pathways offered include Culinary Arts, Business and Human Resource Management, Engineering and Technology, and more. 

I was also able to work on different communication skills since we wrote manuals and presented a lot through DECA.”

— South Forsyth Graduate Lara Van der Beek

Additionally, many pathways have a connecting world-wide organization that students can partake in. Within these organizations, such as Technology Student Association (TSA), Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), and DECA (marketing club), students have the opportunity to compete in different competitions which strengthen their leadership and communication skills, as well as connect with businesses and industries from all around the state. This allows students to network with others and catch a glimpse of what their future might comprise of. 

Students also have the choice to join work-based learning programs, shadowing programs, and leadership positions throughout the pathway’s corresponding club or organizations. These programs help students visualize what they might be doing 10 years from now and possibly even help them discover hidden passions. 

Each CTAE Pathway has its own graduation requirements. While each county may vary with its graduation requirements for a certain pathway, Forsyth County provided a list of requirements for students to fulfill in order to receive their Diploma Seal and potentially even a medallion during graduation. After completing the three specific courses of that pathway, students must pass an End of Pathway Assessment and participate in a community service project within that pathway for at least 40 hours. For those who pass the exam with a high score, they would receive industry credentials, which helps their personal list of experiences and education stand out amongst the crowd. Overall, these requirements guide students to take opportunities and face challenges, preparing them for a successful future.

The Georgia Department of Education has also found that 99.6% of those who complete a pathway continue to seek post-secondary education, further training, or other employment opportunities. All the pathways fall under 17 career clusters; therefore, students have an array of possible careers to follow once they have graduated high school or completed their post-secondary education. 

Student Stories

Many of the recent graduates from SFHS are currently pursuing post-secondary education at their respective colleges. To gain first-hand knowledge about how beneficial the CTAE Pathways are, below are two interviews from the students of the Class of 2019; a major theme in both their praises of the program included gaining real-life experiences that prepared them for their personalized future. One of the students is Abhay Chilakamarri, who now attends the University of Georgia, and the other is Lara Van der Beek, who attends Georgia Tech. 

Q: What pathway did you complete?

Abhay: Computer Science Pathway

Lara: Marketing Management Pathway

Q: Did you plan on continuing that pathway/subject area in college?

Abhay: No, I chose to follow the pre-medical route since that was not offered at South Forsyth, and I was geared more towards it.

Lara: I am majoring in Industrial Engineering, which involves the optimization of processes I learned in my pathway. While this does not directly involve marketing, the pathway helped me gain skills that will help me in any career path I choose to follow.

Q: What were some classes that were part of your pathway, and how did they prepare you for your future?

These classes helped me gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for computer science.”

— Abhay Chilakamarri

Abhay: Some of the classes I took included Introduction to Digital Technology, AP Computer Science Principles, and AP Computer Science A. I also got to learn more about Java and other widely known computer languages.

Laura: The most important classes in my pathway were probably during my junior and senior years of high school. I had the opportunity to work in the Bird Cage, South Forsyth’s school store. In my junior year, I was an employee in the store, which provided me with firsthand experience of what my future jobs might look like. During my senior year, I was one of the managers in the Bird Cage; this position improved my leadership skills as well as my team working skills. 

Q: What experiences or skills did you gain out of the pathway? 

Abhay: The pathway exposed me to the broad field of computer science and helped me see if I really wanted to pursue this career in the future or follow a different passion of mine.

Laura: The pathway offers a lot of real-world applicable situations and experiences that most other high school classes do not have. The teachers focus on giving us projects for real companies. Additionally, managing the Bird Cage [the school store] my senior year granted me with unique leadership experience and an opportunity to learn new skills such as managing the finances of the store.

Q: Were you in any clubs that supported your pathway? If yes, how did the clubs support your pathway and passion? 

Abhay: I was an active member of FBLA and served as our chapter’s president. The organization and its purpose positively shaped my entire high school experience. Through competitions and leadership roles, FBLA sprouted my self-confidence and helped to improve my leadership skills

Laura: Yes, I was in DECA for 3 years. DECA expanded on the real-world experience that this pathway offered. Working with 2 other people each year, I wrote three manuals, 2 on large companies and 1 on SFHS’s Bird Cage. We also presented our projects to business people in a professional setting. This presentation positively impacted and grew my communication skills and experience of presenting to business professionals.


With the current success rate of the CTAE program, the statistics are only going to rise from here on out. More and more students are discovering where their passions lie through this program and its partners. The classes, service projects, leadership opportunities, and skills gained from this program is giving students the experience of a lifetime. The Georgia Department of Education is not only educating its students, but also preparing them to be the leaders of tomorrow.