RELEASE: Narrowing Career and Technical Education Racial Opportunity Gaps Is Possible With New Data

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new column looking at racial disparities in career and technical education (CTE) programs in America as well as how policymakers can use data to address them. Currently, Black students are roughly 4 percentage points less likely have access to CTE programs than otherwise similar white peers, and Hispanic students were 3 percentage points less likely to earn at least one credit in a STEM CTE field. These inequities violate federal law, which requires students from all backgrounds to have equal access to CTE programs, and can be traced to multiple factors, including the systematic segregation of students by race and class and stereotyping.

CTE programs play an essential role in improving students’ academic and workforce outcomes. For instance, CTE program enrollees are more likely to attend and graduate from community college. This is particularly crucial given that Black and Latinx students are less likely to enroll in and graduate from high school and postsecondary programs.

The paper outlines how some districts—including Denver and Boston Public Schools—are using new data made available to them under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which was signed in to law in 2018, to identify existing opportunity gaps.

Click here to read “Advancing Racial Equity in Career and Technical Education Enrollment” by Ryan Smith.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at or 202.741.6292.