Best Practices

Model Programs

Buffalo’s Approach to CTE Programming for Students with Disabilities

Heinle, Katherine M., Techniques. (April 2008)

Transitioning Students with Disabilities into Work

Allen, Ciancio, Rutkowski

For students with disabilities, the opportunity to work in a supportive environment is one that can bring them, and their employers, great rewards. A program started more than a decade ago at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is giving students just that kind of opportunity through innovative workforce and career development.

Students with Disabilities in Massachusetts Career and Technical Education Programs

Foundations of Food Services Program, Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES, Johnstown, NY

Students in the Foundations of Foods program will learn basic entry level skills ideal for employment in the culinary industry. Students will receive both traditional classroom instruction and hands-on training.

Green Chimneys

400 Doansburg Road, Box 719, Brewster, NY 10509-0719 Phone: (845) 279-2995

Children who come to Green Chimneys have experienced years of failure. Many of these children have had few experiences to take care of themselves, let alone others. Yet when they leave Green Chimneys, which is inevitable for all of them, they must learn how to do exactly that. Our vocational activities and educational programs give children tools they can take with them after they leave Green Chimneys and provide practical experiences that give them confidence and knowledge for entry level employment.


STEM subjects attract higher rates of students with autism

In this blog post, Anna Kuchment recalls a study that showed higher percentages of students with autism pursue majors in science, technology, engineering and math than students without disabilities. Kuchment looks at researchers' theories for this trend, noting that one possible explanation may be that individuals with autism tend to be more logical and systematic, and less emotional, in their thinking. Scientist blog (2/1)

General Resource

Q & A - Common Core State Standards as it applies to students with disabilities.

Successful Practices Network Common Core Standards and Spec Ed.

The discussion around Common Core State Standards and Next-Generation implies raising student expectations, requirements, and assessments. This Q & A addresses the following questions. What does this mean for special education students? What should be the focus of the conversation on Common Core State Standards with teachers of special education?


CDOS Credential

NYSED releases CDOS information for parents and community businesses.

The New York State Education Department has released two brochures that districts may use to disseminate key information to parents and community businesses on the Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential. 

In addition, Questions and Answers regarding the CDOS Commencement Credential were also updated and are available here

Employability Profile NYSED CDOS Credential

Equity Strategy

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

Ordover, E. L. (no date), Center for Law and Education

A brief discussion of the current and historic inequities experienced by youth with disabilities with in the public education system and a consideration of the legal responses to those inequities as found in major federal education and civil rights legislation is found here. The implications and strategies for equity and program design, admissions practices, and individual support that emerge from those laws are reviewed.


How CTE Could Improve Graduation Rates for Students with Disabilities

Policymakers should consider career and technical education programs as a viable option for improving outcomes of students with disabilities because they often thrive under such programs, education researchers Todd Grindal, Shaun M. Dougherty and Thomas Hehir write in this blog post. They highlight a recent report by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that showed students with disabilities had a 70% higher chance of graduating from career and technical education programs than traditional high schools. The Huffington Post/The Blog (8/19)

Special Needs Students in Career and Technical Education: Resource

 A committee (in Tennessee), composed of state and local level representatives from career and technical education, special education and school counselors, was developed to conduct a study related to services for special needs students in career and technical education. Their mission was to determine and address barriers to appropriate placements of special education students into career and technical programs and to develop and implement written suggested guidelines for use by school personnel. This resource is the result of the study and it is hoped that it will serve as a tool in the process of developing an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and in modifying competencies for special needs students.

Research to Practice Brief — DO-IT: Helping Students with Disabilities Transition to College and Careers

Sheryl Burgstahler

This publication summarizes research on issues related to positive school and employment outcomes for students with disabilities. Second, it describes one program, DO-IT Scholars, that successfully applies research findings in a cohesive set of interventions for students who have disabilities. Last, it shares lessons that can be applied to other college and career preparation programs for teens with disabilities.


The United States Education Department Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is dedicated to improving results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21 by providing leadership and financial support to assist states and local districts.

NYSED. 2011. Application of CCSS to Students with Disabilities. Engage NY

The Common Core State Standards articulate rigorous grade-level expectations in the areas of mathematics and English language arts. These standards identify the knowledge and skills students need in order to be successful in college and careers.


Technology Gives Students with Disabilities Access to College Courses

Students with Special Needs and Career and Technical Education (2006)

Suzanne C. Calvert, Lynchburg College

Career and technical education (CTE) and students with specials needs create meaningful opportunities with ramifications beyond the classroom. CTE provides many benefits for students with special needs. Methods used by CTE teachers to present material, hands on learning, and relevance are a few of the embedded methods used in the CTE classroom which may be useful to CTE students with special needs.

Special Needs Students in Career and Technical Education - PSEA

Data confirms that many career and technical centers/schools have a large population of special needs students, some as high as 50% of their total population. While problems associated with this population can be challenging, there are strategies that can provide effective interventions and supports for struggling students.


Strengthening Employment Opportunities for Autistic People (Archived Webinar)

Penn State students, staff, and faculty in Adult Education & Workforce Education & Development and interested members of the public participated in a discussion, Employment & Autism, on Jan. 18, 2013. This webinar is to be facilitated by Scott Michael Robertson, an autistic adult, who leads initiatives to protect the rights of adults and youth with disabilities. He is the Co-Founder and Vice-Chair of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

White Papers

Bridging the Special Education – Career and Technical Education Divide: Planning for Success of Special Education Students

The purpose of this white paper is to help secondary school administrators, teachers, and parents coordinate the programmatic requirements of Career and Technical Education (CTE) with those that govern the rights of students in Special Education programs and those with a 504 plan. This paper discusses the relevant laws governing both areas and potential for conflict, explores the positive impact that proper placement in a CTE program may have on a student with a disability, and proposes a solution that best supports the success of a student with a disability in secondary and postsecondary CTE programs. This success requires the collaboration of CTE and Special Education personnel, the understanding of the student’s disability and abilities, and the appropriate recommendation for proper placement in a CTE program.

Improving Access, Support, and Employability for Students with Disabilities in Career and Technical Education Programs.

NYSUT. (August, 2008). Career and Technical Education and Special Education Committees.