The terms on this page will help you to better understand some of the key components of CTE and how CTE helps prepare students for college, career and life.

     What is S.O.A.R.?

    Students Occupationally and Academically Ready (S.O.A.R.) is a Pennsylvania program which allows CTE students to earn free college credits for the work that they have successfully completed in an approved program of study.

    The Benefits of the S.O.A.R. program:

    •  Save money on college tuition
    •  Save time by shortening time spent in college
    •  Get on the right career pathway
    •  Enter the job market ready

    What is a Program of Study?

    The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) calls upon states to create sequences of academic and Career Technical Education coursework to help students attain a postsecondary degree or industry-recognized certificate or credential, otherwise known as programs of study (POS).

    At minimum, according to the definition put forward in Perkins, programs of study must:

    • Incorporate and align secondary and postsecondary education elements.
    • Include academic and CTE content in a coordinated, non-duplicative progression of courses.
    • Offer the opportunity, where appropriate, for secondary students to acquire postsecondary credits.
    • Lead to an industry-recognized credential or certificate at the postsecondary level, or an associate or baccalaureate degree.

    SOURCE: https://careertech.org/programs-study


    The Career and Technical Education Division of Pittsburgh Public Schools offers 16 Programs of Study.  Each program of study has a federally assigned identification number known as a CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs) Code (see chart below to see what is offered in our school district).  Use the links in the menu to the left for a fuller description of each program.



    Automotive Body Repair    


    Automotive Technology


    Business Administration, Sports & Entertainment (B.A.S.E.)






    Culinary Arts


    Early Childhood Education


    Emergency Response Technology


    Engineering Technology


    Entertainment Technology




    Health Careers Technology


    Information Technology


    Machine Operations


    M-PAC (Multimedia Production And Coding)


    RHVAC (Refrigeration, Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning)


    A student who successfully completes a CTE program of study can earn as many as 12 free college credits (the equivalent of a free semester of college courses) through articulation agreements with participating institutions.  Click on the CIP Code above to learn more about the credits available for that program through state articulation agreements.

    What is an Articulation Agreement?

    Articulation Agreements are formal agreements (or partnerships) between two or more educational institutions documenting the transfer policies for a specific academic program or degree in general.  There are local articulation agreements (between PPS-CTE and post-secondary institutions) and there are also state articulation agreements negotiated between the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and over 44 post-secondary institutions in Pennsylvania, Maryland and the state of New York (see list - http://www.collegetransfer.net/Default.aspx?tabid=943&from=4067).


     How to take advantage of articulated agreements to obtain free college credits.

    To take advantage of an articulation agreement, a CTE student must do the following:

    • Pass the CTE end-of-program assessment known as the NOCTI Exam (with a score of competent or advanced). Students who earn these scores receive a certificate from the State of Pennsylvania, acknowledging their accomplishment.

    What is the NOCTI Exam?

    The National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) Exam is the CTE equivalent of the Keystone Exam.

    NOCTI assessments measure the technical competencies that students have learned during the course of their CTE program.  The exam, usually administered each spring (mid-April), has two components:  an online multiple choice test and a performance test which consists of a series of hands-on jobs related to the CTE program.  Representatives from business and industry serve as evaluators to judge students as they complete the jobs outlined in the performance portion of the test.  To pass the exam, students must receive a score of competent or advanced.  The exam is administered to CTE students in their senior year.

    • Obtain a copy of a completed and signed Competency Task List. The Competency Task List, issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), is a detailed list of the skills students must learn in each program of study.  When a student masters a competency task, the program instructor certifies this by placing their initials next to the task in the student’s Competency Task List Booklet.  This booklet is provided to each CTE student during the first year of the program.  The CTE instructor uses this booklet to keep track of the student’s progress.
    • Utilize the collegetransfer.net website to identify the schools that have agreed to provide free college credits based on the successful completion of a CTE program of study. NOTE:  The number of college credits granted is based on the student’s CTE program.
    • Apply and be admitted to the post-secondary education institution that accepts articulated credits.
    • Provide a written “notice of intent to articulate” to the post-secondary institution.
    • Gather and submit the following SOAR/POS Paperwork and forward to the college (this is the student’s responsibility):

      • Copy of High School Diploma
      • Official High School Transcript (request from high school counselor)
      • NOCTI Skills Certificate or Certificate of Completion (obtain from CTE Career counselor)
      • POS Perkins Statewide Articulation Agreement Student Documentation Cover Sheet (obtain from CTE Career counselor)
      • Secondary Program Competency Task List signed by CTE program instructor (obtain from CTE program instructor)


    Mail these materials to the college admissions office (send as early as possible so that your fall semester college schedule will reflect the articulated college courses and credits).     

    Using the free college credit you earned through your performance and hard work at the CTC will help you progress in your chosen career path.  The credits are good for up to 3 years from your date of high school graduation. Collect these documents, even if you are not yet certain of your college plans.

    What is an Industry Certification?

    An industry certification is a credential recognized by business and industry at the local, state or national level.  CTE students can earn free industry certifications by taking an industry assessment or licensure examination that measures occupational competency, validates knowledge base, and evaluates level of mastery in a particular industry.  The training necessary to pass the examination is provided through the CTE program and CTE covers the cost of the exam for enrolled students.


    Benefits of Industry Certifications:

    Industry certifications are a way for students to show they have specific, industry-needed skills and abilities, which increases their opportunities beyond high school.   They can increase job prospects, marketability to employers, and employability, as well as options for post-secondary education.