Giving Compass' Take:

• Rachel Rosen and Hannah Dalporto explain the need for equity and career and technical education (CTE) and discuss research that will explore if technology-based advising can be part of the solution. 

• How can you support more equitable CTE programs? What additional research in this subject can you support?  

• Read more about the importance of career and technical education

Since the mid-2000s, career and technical education (CTE), formerly known as vocational education, has been undergoing a renaissance. Characterized at one time by programs that directed academically underprepared students into a relatively limited set of occupations with few opportunities for advancement, CTE today is more often linked to high-growth, high-wage career sectors designed to help students move toward sustainable, middle-class futures.

Modern high school CTE programs are often referred to as “high-quality CTE,” and they are designed to help students build career skills and earn credentials through sequenced coursework, postsecondary credit acquisition, and exposure to relevant work-based learning experiences. These kinds of programs, which are on the rise, are poised to expand even more in the coming years. The updated Perkins V legislation (passed in 2018), which provides funding and oversight for state secondary and postsecondary CTE programs, encourages the development of more work-based learning opportunities and continues to push states to increase the academic rigor of CTE through a variety of means, including an emphasis on attaining industry-recognized credentials (for example, Autodesk AutoCAD, Adobe Expert) and earning postsecondary credit while still in high school.

However, while the evidence base suggests that the current investments in CTE are well placed,[1] a remaining question for practitioners is how to ensure that the benefits of CTE can be realized equitably.[2] While Perkins does support states to engage specific underrepresented groups in nontraditional career options, emerging evidence suggests that operationalizing equity in many high-quality CTE opportunities may still be a challenge. For example, STEM-related CTE programs disproportionately enroll students who are both White and male.[3] Female students are overrepresented in traditionally female fields, such as health services or child care,[4] and higher-performing students may be more likely to enroll in highly competitive programs.[5] These patterns of differential enrollment in CTE suggest that entrenched gender-, race-, and class-based inequities may undermine efforts to both strengthen and expand the opportunities that CTE can make possible for students.

Read the full article about equity in career and technical education by Rachel Rosen and Hannah Dalporto at MDRC.