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Equitable Access to CTE in Massachusetts

Photo of a woman with Down syndrome smiling and speaking to colleagues at a grocery store

Project name
Increasing Access to Career & Technical Education for Students with Disabilities in Massachusetts

Project Description

In Massachusetts, students with disabilities are not enrolling nor completing Career and Technical Education (CTE)  classes at the same rates as other students. Of the 62,349 learners enrolled in CTE in Massachusetts during the 2019-2020 school year, only 11,723 (19%) were students receiving services under the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Of these learners, only 4,569 participated in at least two consecutive programs within one pathway as a concentrator.  

Thanks to funding from the Office for College, Career, and Technical Education at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, CAST is partnering with CTE educators across the state to build their knowledge and skills in the Universal Design for Learning framework to design instruction for all CTE students, including students with disabilities. We are also increasing awareness that students with disabilities enrolled in CTE programs are more likely to graduate from high school in four years, earn an industry-recognized credential, and enroll in college.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) resonates with CTE teachers, the majority of whom come to teaching from industry. To these educators, key concepts such as relevance, mentorship, and autonomy already align closely with the teaching strategies in CTE classrooms. UDL is also empowering for CTE educators because it equips them with the research-based strategies they can use to talk about learning and teaching whether or not they have the same pedagogical knowledge as their peers.  As one manufacturing teacher states:

UDL breaks down barriers for educators in CTE because it provides a common language that works across programs or content areas. Using UDL, CTE educators can discuss curriculum, lesson design, student engagement, and assessment strategies whether they teach the same subject or not.


2022 - 2024


Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education


Multistate Association for Bilingual Education Northeast (MABE)

Project Leadership

Donald Walker, Project Lead, CAST
Luis Pérez, Accessibility Expert, CAST



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