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Career and Technical Education for Students with Emotional Disturbance

Date Posted: Friday, April 30, 2021
By: Colleen E. McKay, Marsha Langer Ellison

This policy proposal is for a demonstration of career and technical education (CTE) for students with emotional disturbance (ED) using guidance from the Translating Evidence to Support Transitions in Career and Technical Education program (TEST-CTE). Various federal agencies have mechanisms for supporting a TEST-CTE demonstration and an impact evaluation focused on diversion from employment and disability benefits. TEST-CTE would help states and districts satisfy their obligations under federal laws including the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Youth with ED lag other students with disabilities in their high school completion and postsecondary education and employment, and they rely heavily on disability benefits. CTE is federally supported, widely available, and associated with improved postsecondary outcomes for students with ED who take a concentration of CTE credits. Focusing on students with ED, the TEST-CTE guide directs special educators to assist students in (1) exploring careers, (2) formulating a postsecondary career goal in an in-demand industry, (3) developing an individualized education program (IEP) that identifies four credits of CTE aligned with that goal, (4) obtaining work-based learning experiences, and (5) addressing and mitigating challenges with acquiring CTE credits. These activities can occur either for special education students through their IEP or for general education students through the individualized learning plan process.

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