Access and equity is one of 12 elements of high-quality CTE, defined in ACTE’s comprehensive, research-based Quality CTE Program of Study Framework. This element addresses program of study promotion, student recruitment and strategies that support access and equity for various student populations, including by gender, race and ethnicity, and special population status (such as individuals with disabilities, individuals from economically disadvantaged families and English learners). The following reports, articles, guides and toolkits can help you develop and support access and equity in high-quality CTE programs of study.
CTE Program Promotion
- Up, Up and Away: Comic Books for CTE Program Promotion
Schutt, Washer and Conrad, ACTE Techniques Magazine, February 2018
Comic book design can be an effective tool to promote CTE programs and illustrate pathways to students.
- Messaging Matters: Designing Communications Tools to Support CTE Data Use
Graham and Klein, ACTE Techniques Magazine, February 2018
Promoting CTE programs requires sharing CTE data effectively in concise, easy-to-understand formats tailored to users’ needs. Examples are provide from the Nevada Department of Education.
- The Power of Micromessages in Marketing, Recruitment and Success in CTE
Williams, ACTE Techniques Magazine, February 2018
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity staff describe a model of change called the Micromessaging Culture Wheel. It was used as part of an inclusive messaging strategy by the Ohio Construction Advisory Council.
- Communicating the Value and Promise of CTE With Parents and Students
Fitzgerald, ACTE Techniques Magazine, February 2018
Advance CTE, with support from the Siemens Foundation, commissioned focus groups and a national survey to explore the attitudes of parents and students currently involved in CTE, as well as prospective parents and students, to better understand how to communicate the value and promise of CTE.
- Recruit Students into CTE
These tools and guides, developed out of research conducted by Advance CTE with support from the Siemens Foundation, can be used in CTE program communication and recruitment efforts.
Access and Equity Strategies
- With Learners, Not for Learners: A Toolkit for Elevating Learner Voice in CTE
Advance CTE and ACTE, August 2021
By empowering learners to be key stakeholders, high-quality programs and policies can better address learner needs and break down barriers — particularly for historically marginalized populations. This toolkit provides state and local CTE leaders with actionable resources, guidance and tools to ensure CTE learner voices are elevated and heard for the improvement of CTE policies and practices, including a rubric to assess your commitments for engaging CTE Learners; a worksheet to assess organizational readiness to elevate learner voice in CTE; sample focus group questions for current CTE learners; and an action planning worksheet for developing a strategy to elevate learner voice in CTE.
- Strategies for Special Population Success: Practical Tips and Tools for Educators
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE), January 2021
This resource provides a literature review conducted by NAPE, that includes effective practices and identified organizations with particular expertise to support development of Perkins Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment and Local Application. The resource also aims to assist state agencies in providing effective technical assistance to better serve each of the nine special population student groups.
- Increasing Access, Equity and Diversity: NAPE’s Program Improvement Process for Equity
Williams, ACTE Techniques Magazine, November/December 2016
The National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity Education Foundation’s Program Improvement Process for Equity is a research-based institutional change model and professional development program designed to increase the participation and success of underrepresented students in nontraditional CTE programs, including girls and women in STEM.
- Making Good on the Promise
The Making Good on the Promise series confronts the negative aspects of the CTE legacy and defines the key challenges learners face today, providing promising solutions to help state leaders close equity gaps in CTE. The series examines how states can leverage data to identify and address equity gaps, rebuild trust with historically underserved communities, expand access to high-quality CTE for each and every learner, and build systems to ensure learner success.
- Overcoming Barriers: Supporting Nontraditional, Underserved and Special Populations
Minnesota Foundation for Student Organizations, 2014
This publication describes a competitive grant process to address discrepancies in access to and participation in career and technical student organizations.
- Achieving Educational Equity and Justice in Career Academies: Challenges and Promising Strategies
Ford Next Generation Learning, May 2017
This paper draws on input from Ford Next Generation Learning communities. It summarizes key equity issues that the districts have encountered, discusses some strategies they are using to address inequities and identifies other approaches that communities might use to achieve equitable outcomes and reduce disparities across different demographic groups.
An equitable problem-based learning approach can positively affect marginalized groups. This publication provides strategies that educators can use to make their problem-based learning practices more equitable. It incorporates detailed professional learning community guides and a reflection tool to support evaluation.
This rubric is designed to help program administrators, designers, implementers and funders determine the degree to which a STEM program is inclusive and supports access and success for students who historically have not engaged in STEM.
- CTE’s Role in Rural Education
ACTE, August 2015
CTE facilitates rural students’ education and career development through flexible delivery models that facilitate student learning and engagement while working with financial, geographic and access challenges.
- Providing Access to CTE Through Residential Programs
Scala, Peterson and Poland, ACTE Techniques Magazine, January 2016
In Alaska, residential CTE-focused programs equip rural students with hands-on, work-based experiences.
- CTE Delivery in Rural Ohio
Huston, ACTE Techniques Magazine, January 2016
Ohio’s Washington County Career Center and Collins Career Technical Center are redefining what it means to be successful in a rural environment through industry partnerships, work-based learning and postsecondary credit.
- Small Texas District Makes Big Gains
Farmer, ACTE Techniques Magazine, January 2016
CTE and STEM are gaining momentum in Texas’s rural school districts, thanks to support at the top, weighted funding and business/industry connections.
- The New Rural CTE: A Promising Development
Hoffman and Cahill, ACTE Techniques Magazine, January 2016
Education-employer partnerships are integral to developing career pathways in rural areas. This article describes the Wonderful Agriculture Career Academies in the San Joaquin Valley of California, as well as education partnerships with Tanner Health Systems in rural Carroll County, Georgia, and with Eastman Chemical Company in the Appalachian mountains of northeast Tennessee.
- CTE As a Lifelong Learning Portal
Lassiter, ACTE Techniques Magazine, January 2016
This article describes how Lenape Technical School, where students come from a 600-mile radius in rural western Pennsylvania, has become a supportive education hub through partnerships and services to students.
- CTE on the Frontier Series
- CTE on the Frontier: Rural CTE Strategy Guide, April 2018
- CTE on the Frontier: Providing Learners Access to Diverse Career Pathways, December 2017
- CTE on the Frontier: Connecting Rural Learners to the World of Work, September 2017
This series from Advance CTE addresses how to use strategic partnerships and new technologies to reach economies of scale and offer a wider breadth of career pathways to rural learners, and how to bring the physical experience of work-based learning and employer engagement directly to learners through simulated workplace experiences, innovative satellite campuses and mobile labs. The Strategy Guide includes questions for leaders to ask themselves as they reflect on how to expand access to high-quality CTE and career-focused pathways and experiences in rural communities.
- Ready for the Future: Career Preparation in Rural Communities
Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest (led by AIR) and Twin Cities Public Television, 2018
This documentary explores two evidence-based readiness programs in rural Minnesota, emphasizing best practices and factors that contribute to student success.
Students with Disabilities
- CTE for Students With Disabilities Webinar Series
ACTE, Penn State University’s Workforce Education program and National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT), Fall-Winter 2019-2020
This five-part webinar series took a deep dive into programs, practices and partnerships among CTE and special education practitioners that support students with disabilities in CTE. Each 90-minute webinar is available for viewing at CTELearn.org.
- Coordinating Services across CTE, VR, and Special Education
National Technical Assistance Center on Transition
This session helps state interdisciplinary teams examinine their levels of coordination and collaboration across department and agency partners to: 1) implement high quality transition programs and services; 2) deliver Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS); and, 3) ensure students with disabilities have access to and can persist in career and technical education (CTE) programs and curricula.
- CTE and IEPs: Making the System Work for All
Mahadevan, Grenwelge and Peterson, ACTE Techniques Magazine, October 2014
In order to ensure a successful and safe learning environment for all, CTE instructors need to advocate effectively for students with disabilities and their curriculum at individualized education plan (IEP) meetings.
- Curriculum-Based Virtual Field Trips: Career Development Opportunities for Students with Disabilities
Elleven et. al, Journal for Vocational Special Needs Education, 2006
Virtual field trips can be particularly effective for students with disabilities. This article describes the steps for creating a customized curriculum-based virtual field trip.
- Youth with Disabilities in Work-Based Learning Programs: Factors that Influence Success
Scholl and Mooney, Journal for Vocational Special Needs Education, 2003/2004
This article presents the findings of a research study on youth with disabilities who participated in Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship Program. The researchers identify key factors that enhance the capacity of youth with disabilities to complete the program and make a successful transition.
- Pursuit of Equity Webinar Series
College & Career Readiness & Success Center, 2018
- Pursuit of Equity: Leveraging Career and Technical Education for Students with Disabilities
- Pursuit of Equity: Aligning Transition Planning From the State, District, and School Levels
- Pursuit of Equity: Maximizing Postsecondary Outcomes for Students with Disabilities Through Systems Alignment
This webinar series explores state and local strategies and leverage points for ensuring equitable access to career readiness opportunities for students with disabilities.
This adaptation of NAPE’s Program Improvement Process for Equity™, a proven, multi-year professional development and technical assistance program model, will bring diverse district-based teams together to research, analyze, and determine participation and performance gap root causes for students with disabilities in career pathways.
- CTE for Students with Disabilities: Guidance for West Virginia Schools and Districts
West Virginia Department of Education, 2013
This guide helps CTE instructors and special education case managers collaborate and develop a coordinated plan for providing services noted in individualized education plans. It also describes the state’s Individual Work Readiness Certificate, designed for students with disabilities who are enrolled in a CTE concentration.
Economically-disadvantaged Students/Low-skilled Adults/English Language Learners
- Making an Impact: How CTSOs Support Students in Poverty
Saed and Scates-Winston, ACTE Techniques Magazine, September 2017
CTSO advisers can recognize and support students in poverty by creating a safe space, knowing your community’s resources and more.
- Work-based Learning for Youth at Risk: Getting Employers on Board
OECD, December 2016
This report focuses on strategies designed to get employers on board for work-based learning, with a particular emphasis on providing work-based learning for youth at risk and other vulnerable populations.
- Integrating Employability Skills With Classroom Instruction to Support English Learners
College & Career Readiness & Success Center
This supplement helps states and districts integrate employability skills into existing initiatives to support English learners. This interactive module introduces participants to the Employability Skills Framework, explains why these skills are specifically important for English learners and discusses how to differentiate instruction of employability skills to English learners.
- Teaching English Language Learners in CTE Programs ($)
Hernández-Gantes and Blank, 2009
This book advises how to teach English Language Learners (ELLs) in today’s CTE programs. The authors’ teaching framework and case studies draw from common settings in which career and technical educators find themselves working with ELLs—in the classroom, in the laboratory or workshop, and in work-based learning settings.
- Moving Beyond the GED: Low-Skilled Adult Transition to Occupational Pathways describes Synthesis
Park, Ernst and Kim, National Research Center for CTE, 2007
This research project identified best practices for adult education, focusing on program models that combine Adult Basic Education, General Educational Diploma and sometimes English as a Second Language programs with the opportunity to attain postsecondary credentials leading to gainful employment at a family-sustainable wage.
- Bridges to Careers for Low-Skilled Adults: A Program Development Guide
Women Employed, 2005
Bridge programs can prepare adults who lack adequate basic skills to enter and succeed in postsecondary education and training, leading to career-path employment. Topics include designing the program, managing partnerships, developing curricula and assessment, incorporating extended learning and support services, budgeting and funding, staffing and continuous evaluation.
- A Cross-case Analysis of Career Pathway Programs that Link Low-skilled Adults to Family-sustaining Wage Careers
Bragg et. al, National Research Center for CTE, October 2007
This research explored programs; policies; and curricular, institutional and support strategies to support the transition of low-skilled adults through career pathways that align with postsecondary CTE.
- Contextualized College Transition Strategies for Adult Basic Skills Students: Learning from Washington State’s I-BEST Program Model
Wachen, Jenkins, Belfield and Van Noy, Community College Research Center, December 2012
This multi-year evaluation of the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) model describes the aspects of I-BEST that best support student learning, progression and completion and evaluates the costs of I-BEST program delivery.
- Partnerships Between Community Colleges and Prisons: Providing Workforce Education and Training to Reduce Recidivism
U.S. Department of Education, March 2009
Community colleges are natural partners for prisons needing support in providing correctional education. This review examines how partnerships between community colleges and prisons can be formed, explores challenges and benefits, and provides resources and tools.
Gender Diversity/Nontraditional Participation
- Driving Gender Diversity in Computer Science
Chartier, ACTE Techniques Magazine, October 2017
The author shares tactics for diversifying high school computer science programs.
- Nontraditional Career Preparation: Root Causes & Strategies
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, 2009
To assist you in recruiting and retaining more students into nontraditional careers, this guide includes improvement strategies, effective practices and resources for more information.
- Strategies for Increasing Female Participation in Technology-Based CTE Courses
Tate, The CTE Journal, 2017
This research considers what strategies might be implemented in guidance, recruiting and instructional practices to increase female participation in STEM programs on the secondary level.
Justice-involved Youth & Adults
- From Surviving to Thriving: Supporting Transformation, Reentry and Connections to Employment for Young Adults
CLASP & FHI 360, 2020
This report offers practical programmatic solutions that support second chances for young people and raise policy and systems considerations to address equity, collateral consequences, and opportunity.
The following resources, tools and examples can support access and equity in a COVID-19-impacted school year. Check out ACTE’s guide, High-quality CTE: Planning for a COVID-19-impacted School Year, for additional key considerations, guiding questions and emerging best practices and ACTE’s Distance Learning Resources page for discipline-specific content.
- Coronavirus and the Classroom: Recommendations for Prioritizing Equity in the Response to COVID-19
Alliance for Excellent Education, et al., 2020
Fourteen education and civil rights organizations have put together these recommendations for crafting a COVID-19 response that equitably serves the most vulnerable learners.
- Let’s Talk: A Three Part Series
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, 2020
NAPE‘s series of archived webinars addresses equity gaps exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- COVID-19 Response Information Hub
American Youth Policy Forum, 2020
This is a compiled collection of resources for serving disadvantaged populations, such as youth in foster care and justice-involved youth.
- Tiered Framework
Positive Behavioral Interventions Specialists, 2019
This resource introduces the Multi-tiered System of Support, a comprehensive framework used to provide targeted support for all learners.
- The Key: A Podcast with Inside Higher Ed
Inside Higher Ed
This podcast explores the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on education and career plans of Black Americans and Latino Americans.
- NCLA Podcast
New Civil Liberties Alliance
This NCLA podcast discusses access and opportunity for underserved learners in urban areas during the pandemic.
CAST has a number of resources for UDL, including the Universal Design for Learning guidelines as well as tips for developing learning goals.
- Is It Accessible? Questions to Ask Before Selecting Educational Materials
National Center on Accessible Educational Materials
The National Center on Accessible Educational Materials provides questions to ask about accessibility before selecting educational materials.
- Current Trends and Opportunities in Computing
Ladner, University of Washington
This presentation summary includes specific questions educators can ask themselves about technology accessibility.
UDL on Campus discusses the legal obligations of postsecondary institutions with respect to the accessibility of digital learning materials and related guidance.
- Explore Access: Tools for Promoting Disability Access and Inclusion
University of Arkansas, 2020
This resource includes a toolkit for designing an accessible course online.
- Supporting Students with Disabilities in K-12 Online and Blended Learning
Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute, 2018
This guide includes detailed considerations in delivering online and blended learning for different types of disabilities.
- COVID-19 Response: What Described and Captioned Media Program is doing to support remote learning
U.S. Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education’s Described and Captioned Media Program provides media designed for students with disabilities, including CTE content.
- Audiologist: Face Masks Make Communication Difficult for Hearing Impaired
Hershovitz and Tamm, 9&10 News, 2020
This article describes audiological considerations when wearing masks.
- Access and Equity in CTE Instruction Webinar Series
ACTE, Penn State University’s Workforce Education program and National Technical Assistance Center on Transition, 2019
ACTE co-hosted a five-part webinar series on CTE and special education in 2019 with Penn State and NTACT.
- Cyber Safety Quick Links for Protecting Youth: Empowering Students to Become Responsible Digital Citizens and Engage Online Safely
U.S. Department of Education, 2020
This resource has tips and resources for cyber safety and digital citizenship.