What a Difference Career and Technical Education Can Make!

NTACT: the Collaborative
4 min readFeb 21, 2019

By Dawn Rowe & the NTACT Knowledge Development Team

University of Oregon

Students with disabilities are not achieving post-high school outcomes on par with their peers without disabilities in the areas of postsecondary education and employment (Hinz, Arbeit, & Bentz, 2017; USDOL, 2017). Research continues to illustrate that services provided to youth while they are in high school contribute to positive outcomes after high school (Mazzotti et al., 2016; Test et al., 2009). One important transition service that can be provided to youth while in high school is access to Career Technical Education (CTE). Involvement in Career Technical Education (formerly called Vocational Education) while in high school, increases the likelihood students will be employed after high school. Rowe et al., (2015) defined CTE as “a sequence of courses that prepares students for a specific job or career at various levels from trade or craft positions to technical, business, or professional careers” (p. 119).

Ensuring students with disabilities are accessing and persisting through CTE programs is a critical step in ensuring they are adequately prepared to achieve their postsecondary education and employment goals. States see the benefits in leveraging CTE programs as a critical support for students with disabilities and are taking action to ensure all students have access to CTE programs of study and have the supports needed to persist through to completion.

Take a look at what is happening in some states…

Arizona is offering joint professional development including CTE teachers, special education teachers, and administration. This professional development highlights how secondary transition planning and implementation of predictors of post-school success is a natural fit within current CTE programs of study. It provides practical ideas to collaborate within and across departments starting with the collection and use of age-appropriate transition assessment data. For more information:

Ø http://www.azed.gov/cte/

Arkansas has developed an Opportunities for Work-based Learning (OWL) program and Jobs for Arkansas Graduates (JAG). These CTE programs are designed to identify students who experience barriers to stay in school, earn a high school diploma, secure entry level employment that leads to a career, and/or pursue postsecondary education and training. For students with disabilities, the aim is for students to complete the OWL program and then transition to JAG to gain additional skills in a specific area. For more information:

Delaware has developed a strategic plan to increase the number of youth at risk or with a disability enrolled into postsecondary education programs upon graduation from high schools and/or competitively employed. Called Delaware Pathways, the plan integrates education and workforce development efforts to expand postsecondary options for youth. This comprehensive system of career preparation aligns with state and regional economies and includes relevant and meaningful work-based learning opportunities for youth. For more information:


NTACT’s Resources to Career and Technical Education & Secondary Students with Disabilities

· Quick Guide: Career and Technical Education & Secondary Students with Disabilities- Provides guidance on how to leverage CTE to enhance secondary transition planning, instruction and supports.

· Webinars regarding CTE and Students with Disabilities:

o Using Post-School Outcome (PSO) and Career & Technical Education (CTE) Data to Address Student Outcomes (Airs February 19, 2019)

o Cultivate the Connection, The Alignment Between Accommodations & Employability: Arizona Highlights CTE and ESS connections for Improved Post-Secondary Outcomes (Aired January 17, 2019)

o Collaborative Initiatives Across Career and Technical Education, Vocational Rehabilitation and Special Education: Three State/Local Stories

· State examples of CTE Initiatives- Provides descriptions of both state and local initiatives around students with disabilities and CTE.

· Join NTACT’s Special Education-Career and Technical Education-Vocational Rehabilitation Network to increase collaboration across SpED, CTE, and VR and achieve individual agency outcomes by leveraging practices, resources, data, evidence-based practices from agencies with like outcome measures for SWD. If interested send an email to ntactmail@uncc.edu.


Hinz, S. E., Arbeit, C. A., & Bentz, A. (2017). Characteristics and Outcomes of Undergraduates with Disabilities: Web Tables. U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from: https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2018432

Mazzotti, V. L., Rowe, D. A., Sinclair, J., Poppen, M., Woods, W.E., & Shearer, M. (2015). Predictors of post-school success: A systematic review of NLTS2 secondary analyses. Journal of Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 39, 196–215. doi:10.1177/2165143415588047

Test, D. W., Mazzotti, V. L., Mustian, A. L., Fowler, C. H., Kortering, L. J., & Kohler, P. H. (2009). Evidence-based secondary transition predictors for improving post-school outcomes for students with disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 32, 160–181.

U. S. Department of Labor. (USDOL; 2017). Persons with a disability: Labor force characteristics — 2016. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm



NTACT: the Collaborative

NTACT:C is a Technical Assistance and Dissemination project, funded by the OSEP and the RSA, Cooperative Agreement Number H326E140004.