On Monday, July 23, 2018, the Senate passed the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, a bill to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act. The House of Representatives passed the bill on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. All indications are that, with the likely passage and enactment of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, we will have our first update to the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act for the first time in more than a decade.
As a result of the expertise and input of the America Forward Education Task Force’s CTE Working Group, America Forward developed and ratified a comprehensive policy platform, complete with a range of CTE related policy priorities that we believe are necessary to open doors that create multiple pathways and support individuals who seek additional training, credentials or credit hours to achieve their education and career goals, and equip them with the skills for the jobs of today and the future.
The America Forward Coalition is proud to see the following priorities included within the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act:
Promoting Innovation and a Focus on Results
- Authorizes a new competitive grant program for CTE innovation and modernization and the alignment of workforce skills with labor-market needs within National Activities. Grants would support the creation, development, implementation, replication or take to scale evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student outcomes in CTE and improve effectiveness and alignment. Specific uses of funds include:
- Supporting the development of innovative delivery models for CTE related work-based learning, mentoring, project-based learning, and skills-based and paid internships.
- Supporting the transition of students from secondary education to postsecondary education or employment through dual or concurrent enrollment programs
- Creating or expanding recruitment, retention, or professional development activities for CTE teachers, faculty, school leaders, and other staff
- Developing and implementing a Pay for Success initiative.
- Includes a definition of “Pay for Success” Initiative aligned with the definition included within the Every Student Succeeds Act, but requires the performance-based grant or contract to be between a State, local public entity, and a public or private nonprofit entity.
Increasing Coordination Between Secondary and Postsecondary Institutions
- Recognizes the critical role that opportunities for students to receive postsecondary credit while in high school play in order to help students succeed in higher education and keep college costs low. Requires CTE activities to coordinate, to the extent practicable, with secondary and post-secondary programs, including early college programs, dual or concurrent enrollment programs.
- Allows States and local recipients to facilitate the establishment and expansion of opportunities for students at the high-school level to earn post-secondary credits, which may be through dual or concurrent enrollment or early college high schools within State Leadership Activities and Local Uses of Funds.
Increasing Collaboration between CTE and the Private and Nonprofit Sectors
- Requires States to consult with various stakeholders (which include community organizations, representatives of business, and industry) throughout the State CTE Plan development process.
- Encourages partnerships with qualified intermediaries and nonprofit entities to help with delivering professional development, connecting students to internships, and other work-based learning opportunities.
Exposing Students to Career and Work-Based Learning Opportunities
- Includes, for the first time, a definition of “Work-Based Learning” as sustained interactions with industry or community professionals in real workplace settings, to the extent practicable, or simulated environments at an educational institution that fosters in-depth, firsthand engagement in given career fields that are aligned to curriculum and instruction.
- Encourages States and Local grantees to support work-based learning opportunities and other opportunities that support career exploration and career development activities.
- Supports national projects that expand access to work-based and competency-based learning opportunities within the newly authorized Innovation and Modernization competitive grants program.
Ensuring Effectiveness of CTE Activities by Strengthening Performance Measurement and Accountability for Results
- Requires States to establish levels of performance that must be the same for all CTE concentrators in the State and provide an opportunity for public input and includes flexibility for the State and local recipients to adjust in response to unanticipated circumstances.
- Requires States to make meaningful progress toward improving the progress of all CTE students, including special populations and ESEA subgroups and that State annual reports disaggregate results by each CTE program or program of study (to the extent practicable, in which case the report would require disaggregation by career clusters.)
- Requires a State and its local CTE Recipients that have not met at least 90 percent of the State-determined level of performance for any indicator to develop an improvement plan. If the State or local CTE recipient does not implement an improvement plan or if, for two consecutive years, the State or local CTE Recipient does not meet at least 90 percent of the determined levels of performance, the Secretary and/or State (respectively) has the authority to withhold funds (as is the case in current law.)
- Requires Local CTE recipients to make meaningful progress toward improving the performance of all CTE concentrators, including special subgroups and ESEA subgroups.
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