Access and Equity


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

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
Advance CTE

  • Core Messages for Attracting Students to Career Technical Education
  • Making a Winning Case for CTE: How Local Leaders Can Put This Research to Work
  • Increasing Student Enrollment in CTE Programs: Parent Engagement Tool
  • Guides: Social Media, Focus Groups, Posters, Postcards and Videos

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

Access and Equity Strategies

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.

Telepresence Robots: They’re Not Just for the Jetsons Anymore
Craven and Heitschmidt, ACTE Techniques Magazine, October 2015

Telepresence robots can engage homebound or hospitalized students more effectively than stationary video conferencing units.

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.

Ensuring Equity in Problem-based Learning Toolkit ($)
National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity

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.

Rural Issues

Rural Issues

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
Advance CTE

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.

Students with Disabilities

Students with Disabilities

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

This webinar series explores state and local strategies and leverage points for ensuring equitable access to career readiness opportunities for students with disabilities.

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

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.

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

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.