High-quality CTE: Access and Equity

Click the + sign next to each category below to explore resources that align with the Access and Equity element of the ACTE Quality CTE Program of Study FrameworkTM.

Systems for learning and producing knowledge, such as career and technical education (CTE), often reproduce inequities unless an equity-focused lens is used when designing, implementing, and evaluating programs. This framework presents guidance for conducting CTE research with an intentional focus on equity. Developed by the CTE Research Network’s Equity in CTE Workgroup, the framework illustrates how researchers can infuse an equity approach into research from start to finish and provides real and hypothetical examples from CTE research.

This report looks at the efforts of the state of Rhode Island in increasing dual-enrollment and career pathways opportunities for the differently-abled students of the state.

This report explores policies and practices that can support English learners’ participation in CTE courses.

This report addresses the status of the rural community college landscape and how these institutions can continue expanding access.

This report examines accessibility and economic feasibility of dual enrollment courses and what needs to change in funding and in how community colleges execute these programs to keep them available to students.

This report examines the relationship between CTE participation and transition outcomes for high school students with an identified disability. The findings reveal positive outcomes for high school graduation and employment.

This brief examines survey responses from state CTE directors to determine how states are leveraging Perkins V to support learners with disabilities.

This report describes differences in CTE participation by students’ demographic characteristics, economic disadvantage, and disability identification in four states with very different populations and secondary CTE structures.

This research highlights heterogeneity in CTE outcomes by program areas and for student populations historically overrepresented in CTE.

This report describes strategies for communicating with, collaborating with and supporting CTE learners’ families and communities, particularly for learners and communities who have been historically underserved.

This quantitative study examined the relationship between the technical skill assessment performance of CTE concentrators with disabilities and their placement after high school.

Advance CTE, with support from the Siemens Foundation, has conducted two rounds of national research to find out the messages and themes that most resonate with learners and their families and piloted the resulting messaging with states. Learn more with these messaging tools and resources.

This publication uses an intersectional lens to examine current theories and evidence-based strategies for promoting equity and sustainable change in CTE and STEM programs.

This brief describes what it is like for Black women and Latinas to navigate working in male-dominated trades and what can be done to support their recruitment, retention and success.

This literature review of CTE research between 1998 and 2019 examines how equity has been approached in CTE research.

This report presents data on student outcomes in online for-credit CTE programs, considers differences in outcomes by students’ race and ethnicity, and offers a preliminary framework of strategies to promote equitable student success in online postsecondary CTE pathways.

This resource describes effective practices for supporting and engaging with each of the nine Perkins V special population student groups.

The IM STEM project included STEM education, CTE and workforce development stakeholders from government, business, education and communities across Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Using a collective impact approach, the network worked to identify and scale effective policies and practices that positively impact critical junctures in STEM and CTE education pathways for underserved populations.

NAPE developed the Equity Leadership Academy for States to help member education agencies guide postsecondary systems in their states to make Perkins V more effective and sustainable—with equity at the core. The group is sharing its recommendations to help other organizations continue their equity initiatives.

This 16-month research project aimed to develop an in-depth understanding of occupational identity formation among Black and Hispanic young people and their families, as well as white families from lower income households, through deep listening sessions.

This study examined patterns in high school CTE coursetaking by gender and race/ethnicity, demonstrating large and sustained differences in participation across CTE fields of study by gender as well as pronounced patterns by race/ethnicity.

This issue brief highlights how community colleges across the nation have worked to address equity issues in their CTE programs.

After summarizing the history of vocational education and its relation to tracking, this brief describes how vocational education evolved into CTE and makes recommendations for enacting CTE in ways that support the equitable distribution of educational opportunities.

Using data from a multi-wave longitudinal study, this research brief reports on the representation of females, racial/ethnic minority groups, individuals with disabilities and individuals from economically disadvantaged families in CTE jobs.

This article, co-authored with ACTE, explores CTE’s effectiveness as a secondary special education and transition service; summarizes relevant federal legislation; and presents key recommendations for policy, practice, personnel preparation, professional development and research.

This working paper investigates trends in CTE participation for students with disabilities.

In the spring of 2019, MDRC invited practitioners from innovative CTE programs to discuss questions of equity. This policy brief summarizes the most common equity challenges that were raised in the discussion, along with ideas that emerged for how to address them.

This comprehensive literature review identifies barriers that students with disabilities face to accessing high-quality CTE and shares evidence-based strategies to address these barriers.

  • PACE evaluations – Abt Associates, 2019

The Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) evaluation used a random assignment methodology to assess the effectiveness of 9 career pathways programs targeting low-income, low-skilled individuals on credential attainment, employment and earnings. Abt evaluated the following programs: Carreras en Salud (“Careers in Health”), Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement, Pathways to Healthcare Program, Workforce Training Academy (WTA) Connect and the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) model (which has also been evaluated by the Community College Research Center).

This 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. It includes specific strategies for improving CTE for youth in the justice system, students with disabilities, youth experiencing homelessness and English learners.

This series 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. You can also view a companion webinar.

Oregon participated in NAPE’s Program Improvement Process for Equity™ (PIPE™) process to identify equity gaps in CTE and STEM, identify evidence-based strategies to close those gaps, and pilot new strategies and supports. This brief describes the root causes, strategies and results of this work.

This paper summarizes key equity issues that districts have encountered in implementing career academies, discusses 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.

This paper details the history of female participation in STEM-related CTE courses and describes strategies in guidance, recruiting and instructional practices to increase female participation in STEM CTE courses.

This publication describes a competitive grant process to address discrepancies in access to and participation in career and technical student organizations.

This literature review includes research theories, evidence, recommendations and strategies for recruiting and retaining more students into careers nontraditional for their gender.

This framework provides a set of recommendations for postsecondary institutions and employers to support Black learners and workers to build professional social capital.

This framework is intended to address barriers to education and economic advancement, with a focus on skills training and career navigation, for the more than 70 million people in the United States with criminal records.

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. It includes rubrics, worksheets and sample focus group questions.

This tool helps CTE leaders engage stakeholders in discussions around racial equity in CTE. It includes a participant and a facilitator version.

This tool helps users assess the adoption of best practices for increasing CTE program enrollment and retention of learners who are nontraditional for their gender. A related publication provides strategies for increasing nontraditional enrollment and retention.

  • Nontraditional Crosswalk – U.S. Department of Education, 2020

The Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education prepared this technical assistance tool as one option to help states and local recipients identify CTE programs and programs of study that prepare individuals for fields nontraditional for their gender. The files include an introduction, revisions and a revised final version in Excel.

The guide was designed to help CTE leaders make difficult decisions as they offer remote, blended and socially distanced learning during COVID-19. Access and equity considerations are included throughout.

This toolkit addresses how to identify and address barriers to access and success for individuals from underrepresented groups in apprenticeships, including women, people of color, people with disabilities, English learners and others.

This resource from Advance CTE and ACTE can support state and local leaders as they develop or strengthen middle grades CTE policies, programs and practices to broaden access to CTE for all learners.

The UDL Guidelines are a tool for implementing Universal Design for Learning, a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn. These guidelines can be applied to any discipline or domain to ensure that all learners can access and participate in meaningful, challenging learning opportunities.

These tools introduce participants to the Center’s Employability Skills Framework, explains why these skills are important for English learners and discusses how to differentiate instruction of employability skills for English learners.

This rubric assesses the degree to which a STEM program is inclusive and supports access and success for students who historically have not engaged in STEM.

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 book advises how to teach English learners 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 English learners—in the classroom, in the laboratory or workshop, and in work-based learning settings.

ACTE’s ongoing webinar series features a number of presentations on IAED topics of interest in CTE, including culturally responsive teaching, confronting -isms in the classroom, services to individuals who are justice-involved or incarcerated, closing the gender gap in STEM, making CTE classrooms more inclusive for LGBTQ+ students, equity in remote learning, elevating learner voice and more.

In this webinar, Tara Nattrass, an Education Strategist at Dell, leads a discussion about strategies that CTE educators can employ to ensure that multilingual students are successful in CTE pathways.

This webinar reviews findings from the National Longitudinal Transition Study of 2012 to examine disparities in college- and career-readiness supports and outcomes for students with disabilities after high school. Additionally, the webinar reviews how school counseling programs can be more inclusive of students with disabilities.

This webinar reviews best practices from Maryland and New Hampshire on how to sustain long-term engagement with both learners and employers to increase CTE program enrollment.

In this webinar, Heather Singmaster, Director of CTE at the Center for Global Education at Asia Society, shares a framework for global employability skills that can be integrated into CTE programs to create a more inclusive learning environment.

This webinar reviews how secondary CTE programs can implement equitable recruitment practices to increase access, enrollment and completion for historically marginalized learners, with examples from Alaska and Minnesota.

  • CTE for Students With Disabilities series – ACTE, Penn State University’s Workforce Education program & National Technical Assistance Center on Transition, 2019-2020

This five-part webinar series takes a deep dive into programs, practices and partnerships among CTE and special education practitioners that support students with disabilities in CTE.

This webinar explores education- and career-related motivations and barriers identified by unemployed youth and adults and shares strategies to improve recruitment and enrollment of diverse learners in postsecondary CTE programs.

In this webinar, a panel of experts discusses access and equity in remote, blended and socially distanced learning.

As educators have transitioned to distance learning, new issues have emerged and others have been exacerbated related to the equitable delivery of instruction. Hear from panelists about the challenges and solutions for providing hands-on learning. This webinar is hosted by ACTE’s Health Science Education Division but it is relevant to all CTE educators.

This webinar outlines practices that state CTE leaders can adopt to close equity gaps during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

This webinar helps state interdisciplinary teams examine their levels of coordination across department and agency partners for implementing high-quality transition programs, delivering Pre-Employment Transition Services, and ensuring students with disabilities can access and succeed in CTE.

This live event features a panel of experts focused on how to support access and equity during COVID-19.

  • Pursuit of Equity series – College & Career Readiness & Success Center, 2018-2019

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

This documentary explores two evidence-based career readiness programs in rural Minnesota, emphasizing best practices and factors that contribute to student success.

This series of courses explores how CTE instructors can support learners, including those with post-traumatic stress disorder, autism and disabilities as well as English learners, multigenerational learners, veterans and learners from other cultural backgrounds.

This series of courses describes the unique challenges faced by students from a variety of different backgrounds and how to empower them through career services.

This course addresses assistive technology and its use in online learning, including how federal law governs assistive technologies and how to help students with disabilities to succeed in the online learning environment.

This course describes theories of adult development and learning, the characteristics and motivations of adult learners, and best practices and techniques for teaching adult learners.

The Perkins Data Explorer lets you create custom reports using Consolidated Annual Report state data for CTE participant enrollment, CTE concentrator enrollment and CTE concentrator performance data, disaggregated for different learner groups and special populations and by Career Clusters.

This online hub includes a number of tables on topics related to secondary and postsecondary CTE and career development, including tables disaggregated for different learner groups and special populations.

This data tool and a companion guide help users engage in equity gap analysis in postsecondary enrollment and outcomes.