CLE strives to make the right of all students to a quality education a reality.

The Critical Need for a Lottery-based Admission System in Massachusetts’ Career & Vocational Technical Schools

The Boston Globe recently published an education-related piece entitled “Mass. needs more voc-tech schools — and a fairer way for students to get into them.” We share this piece given the Editorial Board’s endorsement of the remedy—namely, the adoption of a lorry-based system of admission—that CLE has sought regarding discriminatory admissions practice among Career and Vocational Technical Schools. 

We have included a relevant passage from the article here: “The state’s more than two dozen voc-tech schools have too few available slots to accommodate the thousands of students demanding their programs, allowing those schools to cherry-pick their students using a host of criteria — fairly or not, relevant or not. For the 2020-2021 school year, 18,500 rising ninth graders applied for 10,616 available slots in the state’s career/vocational technical education schools, according to the complaint.

“As the popularity and demand for CVTE continued to grow in Massachusetts, however, so did an alarming trend — students of color, [English language learners], and students with disabilities, along with students from economically disadvantaged families, have been increasingly excluded from admission,” it noted.

And despite new regulations approved by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2021 intended to “promote equitable access,” the admission figures for the current school year were disappointing. Some 55 percent of students of color who applied were admitted in the 2022-2023 school year, compared to 69 percent of white students, and 54 percent of students from economically disadvantaged families got admission offers compared to 72 percent from higher-income families.

In fact, since the DESE’s supposed reforms, “almost all schools adopted policies under the new regulations that had the same flaws,” as the old system, the complaint charged. Of the 28 regional vocational schools in question only one went to a lottery system — Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlborough, which did make gains in admissions of students of color, low-income students, and students with disabilities.

Two Massachusetts lawmakers are proposing legislation that would mandate a lottery admissions system rather like that used for charter schools. But Governor Maura Healey’s new administration, whose secretary of education will sit on the DESE board, could simply mandate a lottery system via regulation.

Ultimately the vocational education system needs to be expanded, and that expansion would certainly be a good use of the extra dollars available from the proceeds of the new millionaires tax.” 

The full Boston Globe article may be found here: