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Ensuring Equity in Evolving High School Career and Technical Education Policies

Based on research presented at an Institute for Research on Poverty workshop, this brief explores the evolving structure and goals of high school Career and Technical Education (CTE) in response to changing labor market conditions. Participants explored the growing concern that all students may not have equal access to these innovative initiatives, including inequity in access and outcomes across socioeconomic status, disability, and geographic location. Researchers noted the importance in collecting data on CTE to understand if equity goals are being met. Also noted is the growing stakeholder focus on understanding, defining, measuring, and evaluating program quality, in part because the 2018 Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act places increased emphasis on program outcomes and continuous improvement.


  • Ensuring equitable access to career and technical education (CTE) programs is an important goal as programs evolve to embrace high-demand occupations that require postsecondary preparation and risk leaving more disadvantaged students behind.
  • Responding to changes in the labor market is a particular challenge in rural areas that have a strong history of CTE programs rooted in industries that are now on the decline.
  • CTE programs must invest in data collection, evidence building, and dissemination of findings if they are to understand the extent to which they are meeting their equity and effectiveness goals.


Education & Training, Inequality & Mobility, Job Training, Place, Postsecondary Education, Racial/Ethnic Inequality, Spatial Mismatch


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