Technical Skills Attainment Terminology

Common terms used in technical skills attainment are defined below.

Assessment: The process of gathering, describing, or quantifying information about knowledge and performance. Career and technical education (CTE) educators typically include various assessments in their teaching:

  • Formative Assessment: A process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students’ achievement of intended instructional outcomes. Formative assessments are part of the classroom instructional process and serve to help the student and the teacher know where the student is in the learning process, and what skills and knowledge s/he still needs to acquire.
  • Interim Assessment: Falls between formative and summative, including medium-scale, medium-cycle assessments. Interim assessments may be instructional, evaluative or predictive.
  • Summative Assessment: A system of measuring student progress at the end of a course of study. Summative assessments can be given at any time to determine what students have learned. They can be standardized tests, final exams, or test given at some point during the year to measure students’ knowledge against content standards.
  • Technical Skills Assessment: Quantifies the student’s attainment of knowledge and skills. This assessment is designed by the industry. Technical skills assessments can be: (1) occupational testing organizations’ assessments (such as NOCTI, SkillsUSA) or (2) an exam (end of course/unit) that is a credentialing exam (such as CNA certification exam or AWS credentialing exam) or leads to an industry-recognized credential (such as end-of-program exams for NATEF). For additional information on assessments, visit

Competency Statements: A list of qualities which an employee needs to do their work. The Maine Department of Education CTE Online Technical Skills Resource Directory lists competency statements for each technical skills standard.

Curriculum: The range of topics or courses and related objectives that form the framework for a course of study. The outline of a curriculum is often found within a syllabus (see definition below).

Industry-Recognized Credential (IRC): An official, industry-endorsed proof of qualification for a career field.

Standards: A statement of knowledge and skills students should possess at critical points in their educational career. CTE standards can be categorized as Technical Content Standards and Performance Standards. Academic Standards are often embedded within technical standards.

  • Technical Standards: A statement of knowledge or skills deemed to be essential for all students in a given technical career. These standards pertain to skills of a particular job or occupation, such as that of a medical assistant or a lab technician, and are established by industry. Maine DOE CTE and MACTE have identified industry-related national standards and competencies to which Maine CTE instructors teach. As of June 2011 the Maine Carl D. Perkins State plan requires that all CTE secondary centers and regions select and align to industry standards from the approved standards list for all programs. The frameworks, duties and tasks for these standards may be found on the Maine DOE CTE site.
  • Performance Standards: Define and illustrate levels of expected accomplishment with respect to one or more technical content standards. They are explicit definitions of what students must do to demonstrate proficiency at a specific level on the content standards. Maine DOE CTE has developed Student Competency Records for instructors to record performance and technical standards achievement. These Student Competencies Records may be found in the Maine DOE CTE site.
  • Academic Standards (Content): Criteria established by an educational institution to determine levels of student achievement. Academic standards focus on traditional subject matter areas such as mathematics, language arts, and science, as well as other areas such as critical thinking or technology.

Syllabus: An outline or summary of the main points of a course of study.