Expanding Access to CTE Opportunities for Each Learner

Throughout history, and continuing today, learners of color, low-income learners, female learners and learners with disabilities have been historically tracked into terminal vocational programs leading to jobs with uncertain promise of economic growth and prosperity. Today, the quality of Career Technical Education (CTE) has vastly improved, making it a preferred path for many secondary and postsecondary learners. Yet even today, many learners do not have access to high-quality programs of study in their communities. To help state leaders recognize historical barriers and adopt promising solutions to close equity gaps in CTE, Advance CTE launched a series of policy briefs titled Making Good on the Promise. The first three briefs in the series explored the history of inequities in CTE, highlighted promising practices from states that are using data to identify and close equity gaps, and explored how state leaders can build trust with historically marginalized communities that may not believe in the promise and value of CTE.

Building off these briefs, the fourth brief in the series, Making Good on the Promise: Expanding Access to Opportunity, examines strategies state leaders can use to expand CTE opportunities for each learner. Specifically, the brief examines how state leaders can:

  • Secure and leverage resources to close CTE opportunity gaps;
  • Expand geographic access to CTE Opportunities; and
  • Address barriers to entry into CTE programs of study.

To help state leaders accomplish this, the brief examines promising strategies that Tennessee, Rhode Island, Ohio, and South Carolina are using to dismantle barriers that prevent learners from accessing high-quality CTE. For example:

  • Tennessee launched the Tennessee Promise program, which provides two years of tuition-free attendance at any of the state’s 13 community colleges, 27 Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT) or other eligible institutions offering an associate degree program; and
  • Rhode Island reallocated state CTE funding to create the Innovation and Equity Grants, which are administered competitively to local education agencies for new or existing CTE programs that expand access to CTE for learner populations that are currently underserved.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

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