Special Populations

Special Populations

The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) includes provisions that prioritize expanding access to and supporting success within CTE programs to designated special populations.


  1. To provide all student groups of special populations access to high-quality, rigorous career focused programs and to help student groups of special populations have success within these programs that result in attainment of credentials with labor market value.
  2. Enhancing efforts to serve special populations within CTE programs is a specific goal of Perkins V. The definition of Special Populations has been expanded in Perkins V from that of previous years. The term 'Special Populations' means:
    1. Individuals with disabilities;
    2. Individuals from economically disadvantaged families, including low-income youth and adults;
    3. Individuals preparing for non-traditional fields;
    4. single parents, including single pregnant women;
    5. Out-of-workforce individuals;
    6. English learners;
    7. Homeless individuals described in section 725 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C 11434a);
    8. Youth who are in, or have aged out of, the foster care system; and
    9. Youth with a parent who:
      1. Is a member of the armed forces (as such term is defined in section 101(a)(4) of title 10, United States Code); and
      2. Is on active duty (as such term is defined in section 101(d)(1) of such title).
  3. This page strives to support with information and resources that will lead to lifting students in special populations. Perkins has always been supportive of supporting learners within special population groups.
  4. Tips for Teaching Special Populations Student Groups
    1. Students from Special Population groups go through several barriers in their lives that will influence their education. Here are some tips that can help you:
      1. Make modifications that work for everyone from the beginning. This will minimize the number of accommodations early on.
      2. Evaluate the students' individual needs. This may be difficult when communication about student situation can be limited.
      3. Review lesson plans and set early expectations, set behavioral goals, state needed materials, and explain additional resources.
      4. Integrate appropriate practices within an IEP (individualized education plan).

Improvement Strategies

These resources will help you develop plans to address the equity gaps for special populations that you uncovered during your Perkins V, Comprehensive Local Needs Assessments (CLNA) process.

Your Perkins V Indicator Report provides you with performance data disaggregated by sex, race, and each of the nine special population groups. Use this resource with your team to identify potential strategies to address the root causes of your identified gaps in participation and performance. Utilize the recommended state and national organizations to support your efforts and to locate similar local organizations that serve students in your community.

Target your strategies to address the needs of each of the special population groups to increase the potential for success. With the right support, your students who are members of a special population can achieve amazing results and discover a new world of opportunities.

In today's educational landscape, achieving equity for special populations is an imperative goal. It is essential to address disparities within educational institutions and empower students from various backgrounds to unlock their full potential.

The following list outlines ten strategic approaches that, when applied conservatively, can help bridge equity gaps, and create a more inclusive learning environment. By identifying disparities, promoting cultural sensitivity, engaging student voices, providing professional development, empowering students, encouraging participation in Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs), facilitating work-based learning, nurturing community collaborations, involving caregivers, and implementing effective case management, educational institutions can play a crucial role in fostering success and opportunities for every student, regardless of their unique circumstances.

These strategies, when thoughtfully tailored to the specific needs of each institution, serve as a roadmap for educators and leaders to guide their commitment to equity and justice in education.

  1. Identify Disparities: Thoroughly examine potential disparities within your institution's systems, policies, communication, and social resources, with a focus on ensuring equity.
  2. Cultural Sensitivity: Emphasize the importance of fostering cultural sensitivity among educators and leaders to better connect with students from diverse backgrounds.
  3. Student Engagement: Encourage the active involvement of students in shaping institutional policies and practices through their valuable perspectives.
  4. Professional Development: Provide ongoing professional development to educators, focusing on recognizing and addressing potential biases and implicit biases in educational settings.
  5. Empower Students: Promote empowerment among special population students by offering constructive feedback and fostering self-determination, self-efficacy, and a growth mindset.
  6. CTSO Participation: Encourage special population students to explore opportunities within Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) to enhance their social networks and support systems.
  7. Work-Based Learning: Ensure that special population students have access to valuable work-based learning opportunities, supported employment, and apprenticeships for long-term economic self-sufficiency.
  8. Community Collaboration: Foster partnerships with local community-based organizations that cater to the unique needs of each special population group, making their services accessible on campus.
  9. Engage Caregivers: Actively engage caregivers in various aspects of supporting special population students, while addressing logistical barriers to their participation.
  10. Effective Case Management: Implement efficient case management procedures for special population students to maintain coordinated services and prevent any potential gaps in support.

Improvement Strategies

Quality Indicators

Nontraditional fields refers to those occupations or fields of work, including careers in computer science, technology and other current and emerging high skill occupation for which individuals from one gender comprise less than 25 percent of the individuals employed in that occupation. The intent of Perkins is to help more women achieve economic security by creating opportunities and encouraging them to pursue more high skill, high wage and high demand occupations.

Secondary Performance Indicators

4S1: Nontraditional Participation
Percent of students enrolled in nontraditional programs.

4S2: Nontraditional Completion
Percent of students completing at least 3 courses in nontraditional programs.

ATC Performance Indicators

4A1: Nontraditional Participation
Percent of adult students enrolled in nontraditional programs.

4A2: Nontraditional Completion
Percent of adult students who complete nontraditional programs.

College/University Performance Indicators

4P1: Nontraditional Participation
Percent of students enrolled in programs that are nontraditional for their gender.

4P2: Nontraditional Completion
Percent of nontraditional students completing programs that are nontraditional for their gender.


Advance CTE Publications

Advance CTE is the longest-standing national non-profit that represents state CTE directors and state leaders of Career Technical Education. The following resources are designed to suppor state CTE leadership to advance high-quality and equitable CTE policies, programs and pathways that ensure career and college success for each learner.

Online Connections


Special Populations Workgroup

Special Populations workgroups are under development.  Please reach out to Ephriam Zamora for more information.

Contact Us

Ephraim Zamora
Specialist, Special Populations

Phone: (801) 538-7854 | E-mail