Career and Technical Education (CTE) can play an important role in the effort to provide all children an equitable opportunity to succeed in their educational careers and in life. Public policy addressed in legislation, including the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Workforce Investment Opportunities Act (WIOA), and Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, requires greater collaboration within and across services to ensure that all individuals have opportunities to participate in effective career education programs and to achieve their personal career goals.

Students who participate in CTE are more likely to succeed academically and less likely to drop out of high school than their counterparts who do not. Educators need to provide equity in and access to these programs for all students. Once students are enrolled, teachers must have the resources to respond effectively to their diverse needs. To do this, teachers need to have information to gain understanding and develop strategies appropriate to the various student populations.

Perkins V and Special Populations

The federal Perkins V Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act of 2018 (Perkins V) focuses on increasing employment opportunities for special populations that are chronically unemployed or underemployed. The act defines special populations as:

  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Individuals from economically disadvantaged families, including low-income youth and adults
  • Individuals preparing for nontraditional fields
  • Single parents, including single pregnant women
  • Out-of-workforce individuals
  • English learners
  • Homeless individuals
  • Youth who are in or have aged out of the foster care system
  • Youth with a parent who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces and is on active duty

To assist administrators and teachers in ensuring equitable access, participation, and success for special populations in CTE programs a variety of resources has been collected.

The listing begins with a General Resources section, which has information and strategies that are applicable to working with several special population groups. The other resources are organized around four special population groupings:

For each population, the resources have been grouped in similar categories/media, such as research, centers, articles, and webinars. 


 General Resources

Perkins Career and Technical Education Primer: Accountability

A summary of supports for "special populations" in Perkins V to recruit and retain students in high-quality CTE programs and improve their academic outcomes.

Building a Faculty's Skills in Culturally Relevant Teaching

How a teacher-created PLC spurred collective efficacy around working with diverse students. 

ACTE Access Issue of Techniques

Presents theoretical and practical knowledge on topics including

  • access to enhanced work-based learning (WBL) experiences
  • participation in career and technical student organizations
  • benefitting from articulated credit arrangements

Representation Matters

This issue of Techniques features articles from educators and CTE stakeholders designed to inspire reflection. 

Equity in High-Quality Programs: The Combined Promise of the Civil Rights Laws and Perkins Act for High School Youth with Disabilities

Although this document is pre-Perkins V, it sets the stage for the importance of equity in high-quality CTE programs. It contains a brief discussion of the historical inequities experienced by youth with disabilities within the public education system and some of the legal responses to those inequities as found in major federal education and civil rights legislation. The implications and strategies for equity and program design, admissions practices, and individual support that emerge from those laws are also discussed. 

The HERE to HERE Language Guide: A Resource for Using Asset-Based Language with Young People

This Language Guide is a resource for advocates, educators, employers, members of the media, and others to investigate the words they use when working with or for young people. 


 Centers, Government Offices, and Organizations

Career and Technical Special Populations (CTSP) Center

The CTSP Center is a Texas Education Agency (TEA) grant-funded project. The Center's mission is to provide access to career and technology and special education-related multimedia information (books, curriculum materials, videos, online courses) to teachers, parents, and education professionals throughout Texas and nationally.

Advance CTE - Access and Equity

Advance CTE's Brave Dialogues: A guide to Discussing Racial Equity in Career Technical Education is designed to provide state CTE leaders with tools to begin and continue discussions that right the wrongs in CTE and to support state CTE leaders in creating an environment in which state teams, local intermediaries, business partnerships, and policymakers have the language and comfort to discuss challenges and opportunities related to racial equity in CTE. 

Texas A&M University Center on Disability and Development

The Center on Disability and Development offers dozens of training opportunities throughout the year on disability-related topics. 

The CDOS Pathway

Under the "4+1" pathway assessment option, students must take and pass four required Regents exams (English, math, science, and social studies) or NYSED-Approved alternative assessments and a comparably rigorous assessment for the fifth required exam to graduate. 

CDOS Credential - CTE Technical Assistance Center of NY

The CTE TAC offers more information about the CDOS Credential.