• DESE Admission Regulations Update
    Equitable Access to Chapter 74 Programs

    During the past two years, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has directed an initiative focused on the admission policies of vocational-technical schools. The underlying mission was to advance a set of regulations that would require vocational schools to develop and implement an admission policy that is consistent with federal and state law and any relevant guidelines issued by the Massachusetts DESE or the U.S. Department of Education.

    Using a combination of data, public testimony, increased student interest, labor and market demands, and diverse student populations, the DESE has determined that all vocational schools need to set policies that respond to the needs of their sending communities and are consistent with:

    • Provide districts offering CVTE programs with the flexibility to develop data-informed
       local admissions policies that promote equitable access, comply with state and federal
       laws and regulations, and receive annual approval from the district’s school committee
       or board of trustees.

    • Vocational schools and programs that use selective criteria shall not use criteria that
       have the effect of disproportionately excluding persons of a particular race, color,
       national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.

    • Clarify the Department’s authority to intervene in cases of non-compliance, and in such
       cases, to order changes to admissions policies that may include requiring a lottery.

    • Improve access to information about CVTE for students and families in sending districts.

    Summary of Major DESE Changes in CVTE Admission Regulations
    Passed by the Massachusetts Board of Education on June 22, 2021

    • Selection criteria may not consider a student’s record of excused absences from
       school, minor behavior, or disciplinary infractions.

    • Vocational schools and programs shall ensure that all admissions materials are
       in both English and the primary language of the home if such primary language
       is other than English.

    • Vocational technical schools shall maintain a record of all students who apply for
       admission, enroll in the school or are placed on a waitlist, and their score on admission
       criteria, if used, to facilitate analysis and evaluation of the admissions system and its
       compliance with 603 CMR 4.03(6).

    • The District’s Admissions Policy shall have a process for application and admission to
       the school, as well as admission to particular programs within the school, including
       any criteria, lotteries, or other processes to be used in selecting students.

    • The District’s Admissions Policy shall have a plan that includes deliberate, specific
       strategies to promote equal educational opportunities and attract, enroll, and retain
       a student population that, when compared to students in similar grades in sending
       districts, has a comparable academic and demographic profile.

    Visit the DESE website for more information on the DESE guidance on admissions for
    career vocational-technical schools.