Friday Apr 21, 2023

Career and Technical Education as a Bridge to High School English Learner Success

Career and technical education (CTE) is frequently touted as an effective strategy to encourage high school students to persist to graduation and set themselves on a path to jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage. For English Learners (ELs), who disproportionately come from low-income families and are less likely than their peers to graduate on time, participating in CTE can be especially rewarding—if they have meaningful access to such classes and support to successfully complete them. Federal rules and state oversight play important roles in ensuring ELs are allowed to enroll in CTE, but challenges to serving them are numerous, from student schedules already packed with required classes to faculty unprepared to meet unique learning needs.

ELs’ meaningful participation in CTE requires a holistic approach to program planning and student recruitment. For example, school counselors—who play a gatekeeping role in determining the courses students can access—can benefit from working closely with EL specialists to understand student and family perspectives. Regular, two-way communication with higher education and industry partners ensures that high school staff understand local opportunities, and that those partners are ready to take advantage of the assets current and former EL students bring with them and to support their continued career growth.

This webinar marks the release of a report from MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy on CTE and ELs that describes federal and state policies that support EL inclusion in CTE, as well as local challenges and opportunities. The conversation highlights a Texas school district program in which collaborative practices between the CTE and multilingual departments are taking place to ensure ELs are appropriately supported.

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