CTE offers a rich set of opportunities to its students, but only if they have access to that programming. Ensuring that students of all backgrounds have more than de facto access is crucial to the successful implementation of CTE.
Mapping Differences in Access to CTE Programs in New York and Connecticut
About the Research Study
Career and technical education (CTE) researchers have a duty to ask equity-focused questions regarding student access to programs, particularly considering the historically problematic past of vocational education. This project was designed to build an understanding of the extent to which differences in access to programs can explain differences in CTE participation on the basis of family income and race or ethnicity. The study examined the following questions: Are there clear differences in the number and type of CTE programs of study that students have access to based on their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic, and/or other geographic characteristics?
The research describes the variety of CTE opportunities available in two distinct and different systems: New York City’s Department of Education and the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS). These systems provide open access to a significant number of students in New York City and Connecticut (respectively) and include a wide variety of programs of study across career clusters. Using census tract data, Education Demographic and Geographic Estimates program (EDGE) data, and Google Maps APIS, the study examines the “supply” of CTE programs in the context of physical proximity of potential students, measured in time of travel and the seats available within CTE programs at travel-accessible schools.
In summary, findings vary widely across predictors and context. While many programs are in fact more accessible to students of Black/Latinx backgrounds and from lower socioeconomic backgrounds than White and Asian students or students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, this is not universally true for all CTE career clusters. In particular, STEM and STEM-related programming may be particularly more distant for Black/Latinx students in Connecticut, but these results do not hold for New York City.
Study period: August 2020–March 2023
This supplemental CTE Research Network project is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305A180511 to Vanderbilt University.
About the Research Team
This project is being carried out by a cross-Network collaboration of researchers at the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, the University of Connecticut, and Boston College. Samuel J. Kamin serves as the project's Principal Investigator (PI).