Career and Technical Education (CTE) Frequently Asked Questions

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) has received numerous inquiries from higher education institutions regarding compliance with relevant state rules and reporting requirements that may be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The responses below are intended to provide  general guidance for institutions from the THECB as it pertains to Career and Technical Education (CTE) during this health emergency. THECB staff will update this guidance as we receive additional inquiries and information. If you have a particular need this general  guidance does not address, please contact Ginger Gossman at for assistance. In addition to this guidance, please consult the THECB’s Coronavirus Update for Higher Education page for information on COVID-19 and higher education.

The information on this page is updated regularly.

Career and Technical Education (CTE)

What are the options for assisting Career and Technical Education (CTE) students to complete courses when online education is not an option for completing the required contact hours?

Institutions do have options for completing required CTE contact hours. The THECB encourages institutions to follow the SACSSOC directive that allows flexibility. Institutions should also check with any applicable programmatic accreditors regarding CTE course and program requirements.

The SACSCOC response to THECB regarding flexibility is as follows:

Institutions were given latitude as to how they would complete instruction for the current semester. In this unusual time of crisis, institutions made their own decisions whether to transition to online or whether to offer other alternatives. It would be up to the institution to determine if other alternatives would be available for students. However, everyone needs to be advised of the potential impact of alternative approaches to completing the semester on institutional integrity, student progress, financial aid, etc. In the end it is an institutional decision within its own policy on such matters.

Note: As alternative approaches to instruction are considered, the THECB encourages institutions to include their financial aid offices in those discussions. The regulations for federal financial aid are complex, and financial aid directors can provide insight on how different approaches may impact a student’s eligibility for financial aid.

May institutions waive contact hour requirements and use competency-based education (CBE) or other options for students to complete a course?

Note: The following guidance provided for spring 2020 has been extended for the summer and fall of 2020.

CBE courses may be offered for career and technical education (CTE) courses listed in the Workforce Education Course Manual (WECM) provided the class has a semester credit hour (SCH) equivalent and all learning outcomes are covered. Students must be able to demonstrate that they mastered learning outcomes for assessment to substitute for contact hours. Additionally, the expectation is that the learning outcomes in contact hour-based learning were, or are, also assessed during the course.

SACSCOC guidelines provide for up to 50 percent of a course being offered through CBE, including through learning assessment that does not take a traditional contact hour approach. If more than 50 percent of a course is offered through non-traditional CBE or similar approaches, the course may not be included for credit.

CBE courses that meet the guidelines above may be reported to the THECB for state funding. In 2019, the Community and Technical College Reporting Manual (pages 4.9 and S.8) was revised to allow institutions to report CBE for funding under the following circumstances:

“Competency-Based (Q) is a class that allows students to progress towards completion, often at their own pace, as they demonstrate mastery of a defined set of knowledge and skills. The class must have a semester credit hour value and the students that are reported as enrolled in this class must have begun engaging with the course materials. Competency-based education courses may only be reported for funding if they are linked to coursework in the Academic Course Guide Manual (ACGM) or the Workforce Education Course Manual (WECM).”

Please refer to the Institutional Reporting questions for additional information on reporting changes to course mode during the semester.

Each course in the Workforce Education Course Manual (WECM) has a suitable range of semester credit hours (SCH) and/or contact hours necessary to master minimum learning outcomes. Ranges reflect an essential premise of WECM course construction, that is, minimum required outcomes are linked with maximum SCH and/or contact hour ranges to afford each institution a choice of instructional strategies via lecture/lab components. SCH courses are assigned contact hour ranges based on the ratios outlined in the Table 4.1 found in the Guidelines for Instructional Programs in Workforce Education (GIPWE), Lecture – Lab Credit/Contact Hour Combinations for SCH, page 33, and online at GIPWE. Institutions must follow the established ratios for SCH and contact hour assignments.

Note that if a course does not have SCH equivalents, then this guidance for CBE options does not apply. The THECB will further explore options for courses without SCH equivalents, if requested. Workforce Continuing Education CTE courses that meet the guidelines above also may be included for using CBE option.

The following summarizes the previous guidance above, which allows for a student to complete a CTE and/or a Continuing Education CTE course without having completed all of the assigned contact hours.

  • A WECM course may be completed as CBE as long as 50 percent of the course is offered through a traditional mode of instruction, including online, if that is applicable for the course.
  • There must be SCH and learning outcomes affiliated with the CTE contact hour courses for it to be allowable to complete up to 50 percent as CBE.
  • Students must demonstrate mastery of the learning outcomes for credit to be granted. For portions completed in the classroom, traditional assessment that occurred when the class was meeting face-to-face is acceptable.
  • National and programmatic accrediting body requirements must be met.


Inquiries should be directed to Ginger Gossman.

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