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New Perkins V Law Passed: Now What for CTE?

New Perkins V Law Passed: Now What for CTE?

On July 31, 2018, President Trump signed into law H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which is the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins Act), last revised in 2006. Now that this updated bill has been passed, what’s next for career and technical education (CTE) stakeholders?

Perkins Act: 2006 vs. 2018 Reauthorization

The three focus points of the 2006 Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act were to provide an increased focus on the academic achievement of CTE students, strengthen connections between high school and careers after high school, and improve state and local accountability to CTE efforts and initiatives. The revised CTE bill, referred to as “Perkins V”, seeks to build upon the aforementioned focus points by also:

  • Improving alignment to state-identified in-demand industries
  • Placing a stronger emphasis on quality by requiring robust measures of progress
  • Placing a stronger focus on equity by increasing federal funds that states can set aside to assist CTE programs in rural areas and predominately low-income areas.

The updated Perkins V also defines terms as applied to CTE learners—for example: “concentrators” vs. “participants.” At the secondary level, “CTE concentrators” are learners who have completed at least two courses in a single CTE program. At the postsecondary level, CTE concentrators are enrolled learners that have earned at least 12 credits within a CTE program or completed a CTE program if it encompasses fewer than 12 credits in total. “CTE participants” are learners who have completed at least one course or earned at least one credit in an eligible CTE program.

Expected Timeline

The first year of Perkins V (which goes into effect on July 1, 2019) will be a year of transition, giving states the time to submit their transition plan to cover requirements for the 2019–20 program year, according to the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Once the U.S. Department of Education (ED) releases guidelines, states will then be able to provide state-specific guidelines to educational organizations. It is expected that, by the spring of 2020, four-year state accountability plans will be due.

How to Use CTE Funding

So, what happens once local eligible educational recipients receive CTE funding? According to Section 131 of H.R. 2353: “The bill revises requirements for local eligible recipients to receive funding for CTE programs, including: (1) submitting an application instead of an improvement plan to the eligible agency, (2) conducting a special comprehensive CTE needs assessment, and (3) the use of such funds.” The application process for CTE grants is anticipated to be streamlined, and rigorous assessments of CTE needs will be expected to ensure that initiatives are being successful and funding is being used efficiently and with purpose.  

But, what happens when an organization receives funding but doesn’t utilize all of it? Section 201 states: “In order for a state to receive its full allotment of funds for any fiscal year, ED must find that the state's fiscal effort per student or its aggregate expenditures for CTE programs for the preceding fiscal year was at least the fiscal year per student or its aggregate expenditures for the second preceding fiscal year.” In other words, the U.S. Department of Education could reduce the state’s allotment of funds for any fiscal year in the exact portion by which the state fails to meet its fiscal effort of utilizing funds. For this reason, it’s important to have a comprehensive plan in place to effectively use CTE funds.

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