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Specific At-Risk Student Groups


Best Practices


CTE SupportingSpecialPopulations cover 1*NEW*Supporting Special Populations in New York State Career and Technical Education Programs 

The guide provides a comprehensive overview of strategies for supporting CTE students, tailored specifically to the needs of special populations identified in Perkins V. It includes customized pedagogical strategies and CTE-aligned sample assignments that teachers can adapt for use in their classes along with best practices for ensuring these students are represented, included, and have a sense of belonging within CTE courses and programs.

Supporting All Students in New York State Career and Technical Education Programs Supporting All Students in NYS CTE Cover 1

This guide provides a holistic overview of best practices, informed by the most current data on CTE enrollments and educational outcomes for CTE concentrators in New York State secondary schools.

The Four Keys to Helping At-Risk Kids

As outlined in this article, the four essential ways to reduce risk in students’ lives are to create:

  • Caring, sustained relationships
  • Reachable Goals
  • Realistic, Hopeful Pathways
  • Engaging School and Community Settings

Teaching At-Risk Students: 3 Ways to Help Foster Motivation

Many at-risk students lack the skills to respond appropriately to teacher or administrative expectations. The following tactics, which are outlined in detail in the article, are ways to increase motivation among these students.  

  • Prioritize Relationship Building
  • Incorporate a democratic classroom model 
  • Consider the tenets of the enabling component model

Early Intervention to Address Student Performance Concerns

Instructors at Susquehanna County Career & Technology Center use alert forms to notify the student, the parents, the counselor, and the executive director if a student’s grade dips below 75% in a class. This early-intervention approach addresses the needs of all students, including those from across the spectrum of special populations.

Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE)

ACTE’s mission is to provide educational leadership in developing a competitive workforce. ACTE strives to empower educators to deliver high-quality CTE programs that ensure all students are positioned for career success.

Students in Poverty


Teaching with Poverty in Mind: What Being Poor Does to Kids’ Brains and What Schools Can Do About It

This book takes an unflinching look at how poverty hurts children, families, and communities and demonstrates how schools can improve the academic achievement and life readiness of economically disadvantaged students.


How Poverty and Stress Influence Students’ Behavior - ASCD

Poverty and Empathy. Growing up in poverty can dampen the development of empathy due to a range of stresses, including stress on parents. October 1, 2021. 

Actions Against Poverty: The Impact of Career and Technical Education

There is evidence that students with disabilities who live in poverty face intersectional challenges associated with both their disability and living in minimal conditions. This study analyzed program factors and post-school outcomes of 500 former students with disabilities, and findings suggest that in high-relative poverty areas, participation in CTE programs is associated with higher rates of employment during and after high school.

Do Career-Engaging Courses Engage Low-Income Students?

Encouraging school engagement is crucial to promoting positive outcomes for high school students. One potential means to promote school engagement may be through CTE coursework, which is specifically designed to be educationally engaging, particularly for vulnerable populations such as those from low-income backgrounds. 

What Works in Career and Technical Education (CTE)? A Review of Evidence and Suggested Policy Directions

Abundant evidence confirms that CTE offerings at public institutions can increase the earnings and employment rates of graduates, yet substantial barriers to successful expansion of high-quality CTE remain. Aspen Institute. Feb. 2019. 


Can Career and Technical Education (CTE) Improve Student Outcomes

How can CTE programs adjust to meet the demands of changing job markets and how can programs be designed to provide better opportunities to disadvantaged populations? This webinar discusses the evidence on these and other issues. 

Centers, Government Offices, and Organizations

Center for Poverty Research

Created to inform and guide research and public policy around the issue of poverty, the mission of the Center for Poverty Research is to facilitate non-partisan academic research on poverty, disseminate this research, and train the next generation of poverty scholars.

Homeless Students

 Centers, Government Offices, and Organizations

The National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE)

NCHE operates the US Department of Education's technical assistance and information center for the federal Education for Homeless Children and Youth (ECHY) Program. 

New York State Technical and Educational Assistance Center for Homeless Students

The New York State Technical and Educational Assistance Center for Homeless Students (NYS-TEACHS) provides information, referrals, and training to schools, school districts, social service providers, parents, and others about the educational rights of children and youth experiencing homelessness. 

General Resources

Supporting the Success of Homeless Children and Youth

Research and data indicate that experiencing homelessness can have significant negative impacts on children academically, socially, and emotionally. The Education for Homeless Children and Youths (ECHY) program is designed to address the needs of homeless youth to ensure their educational rights and protections. This fact sheet provides tips for how to help homeless students in your school or district.

Improving Equity in and Access to Quality CTE Programs for Students Experiencing Homelessness

While high-quality CTE can help equip learners experiencing homelessness with the skills and credentials needed to obtain a high-wage, high-skill, in-demand career, many learners experiencing homelessness struggle to access and succeed in high-quality CTE programs of study. This brief suggests strategies for how CTE and homeless education leaders can work together to build opportunities for learners experiencing homelessness to access and succeed in high-quality CTE programs of study. Oct. 2020.

National Center for Homeless Education - CTE

Under the Perkins CTE Program, states, secondary school districts, area career and technical schools, and post-secondary institutions receive funds to operate CTE programs. This resource from the National Center for Homeless Education highlights excerpts of the legislation related to homelessness and special populations.

Why Career and Technical Education can be a Perfect Fit for Students Experiencing Homelessness

This blog post explains how the completion of CTE courses by homeless students in Montana lowered the likelihood of dropping out by half. Their data shows that there were no dropouts among the students who participated in Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs)

LGBTQ+ Students

General Resources

Supporting LGBTQ+ Students in the Classroom: A guide for Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants

This guide from the UC Santa Barbara Resource Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity contains suggestions on how to create inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ students both in and out of the classroom.

Developing LGBTQ+ Inclusive Classroom Resources

One way to promote safer school environments for all students is to develop lessons that avoid bias and that include diverse and positive representations of a myriad of identities and communities. For LGBTQ+ students, attending a school with an inclusive curriculum creates a more positive environment and healthy self-concept, as well as increased feelings of connectedness to the school community. An inclusive curriculum supports students’ abilities to empathize, connect, and collaborate with a diverse group of peers. This resource is a guide on how to create an inclusive curriculum for LGBTQ+ students.

Supporting LGBTQ+ Students in Your Classroom

A guide on how you can support students who are still exploring their identities and create a classroom culture where all students can grow academically, socially, and emotionally.

Creating an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Classroom

The presumption of heterosexuality in the classroom places an unfair burden on LGBTQ+ students to silently suffer feelings of exclusion or whether to out themselves. Faculty can reduce that burden by taking a personal inventory of heterosexist assumptions, followed by specific actions to demonstrate that they recognize, respect, and value diverse students.

5 Things You Can Do to Support Your LGBTQ+ Students

This resource offers suggestions, such as designating your classroom as a “safe zone” through stickers or posters and starting an LGBTQ+ Organization at your school to provide support for LGBTQ+ students.

Creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ students in CTE

This ACTE resource offers best practices for creating more inclusive learning environments and responding to anti-LGBTQ+ language.

Migrant Students

General Resources

Summer Program Provides Authentic CTE Experiences for Migrant Students & English-Language Learners

Beaverton School District provides a comprehensive CTE summer school program for migrant students and English Language Learners (ELL) in middle school. 

Migrant Students: What We Need to Know to Help Them Succeed

This resource describes who the migrant children are, barriers to achievement, promising programs, strategies for success, policy recommendations, and recommended resources.