Closing Equity Gaps in Career and Technical Education

Office of the State Superintendent of Education, District of Columbia
August 2022
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Building Equitable Career and Technical Education in the Nation’s Capital

Career and technical education (CTE) programs help high school students make informed decisions about postsecondary education and careers. District of Columbia performance data indicate that not all students participate in CTE coursework, potentially missing out on the economic and social benefits that District programming offers. Since 2018, we have partnered with District administrators to collect and analyze data on student participation and persistence in CTE coursework to identify gaps and consider strategies to ensure that all students have equitable access to CTE programming.

Digging into the Data

Education Northwest analyses of District data reveal differences in student participation and concentration in CTE coursework and the need to address persistent inequities in student access to quality programming. To address these challenges, we consulted with District of Columbia administrators to develop a workshop training series to support educators in improving student access to, persistence in, and outcomes from completing CTE programming. The initial training focused on building a shared understanding of the types of data that currently exist and the importance of applying an equity lens when analyzing results. Subsequent trainings covered investigating districtwide and school CTE data to help identify performance gaps, conducting a root cause analysis to determine the underlying factors affecting observed outcomes, and creating an operational plan to support educators in applying a strategic approach to improving programs.

Training Educators to Recognize and Close Gaps

This partnership’s explorations of CTE data have enabled educators to identify gaps in student engagement in CTE programming and differences across CTE career areas and among student groups. For example, the data shows gaps between male and female students participating and persisting in some CTE programming. We also observed inequities for students experiencing poverty, those with disabilities, and those who are emergent bilingual.

Our workshop training series has expanded educators’ understanding of culturally responsive data literacy practices and supported them in identifying actionable strategies to improve student performance and promote equitable outcomes. Our in-person trainings have also been converted into online modules to make this knowledge more accessible.

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Project Team

  • Steve Klein

    Senior Expert, Career Education & Workforce Development

  • Sarah Pierce

    Leader, Equitable Learning Environments