HR 2353 reauthorizes and reforms the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which has provided federal support to state and local career and technical education programs for more than 30 years. It empowers state and local community leaders by streamlining the application process for federal resources to respond to economic needs, it improves community partnerships with employers, and it increases transparency and accountability to ensure CTE programs deliver results. This measure, which also passed in the Senate, now heads to the White House for approval.
Since 1984, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act has provided federal support to state and local career and technical education, or CTE, programs. These programs help prepare high school and community college students with the knowledge and hands-on experience necessary for jobs in a broad range of industries. However, the law supporting these efforts has not been updated in more than a decade, and it no longer reflects the realities and challenges facing students and workers. Meanwhile, millions of jobs across the country remain unfilled due in part to the “skills gap.” The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act will help more Americans earn a lifetime of success by:
- Empowering State and Local Community Leaders;
- Improving Alignment with In-Demand Jobs;
- Increasing Transparency and Accountability; and
- Ensuring a Limited Federal Role.
- Eases burdensome state requirements:
BACKGROUND EMPOWERING STATE AND LOCAL COMMUNITY LEADERS
The bill simplifies the requirements states have to follow when applying for federal funds. It also streamlines the application process and better aligns it with the process for submitting the state workforce development plan under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. This allows state leaders to focus more time and resources on preparing students for successful careers — not on duplicative or overly prescriptive federal requirements.
- Eases burdensome local requirements: Instead of requiring local education providers to submit exhaustive plans, the bill allows providers to fill out a streamlined local application. Recipients will also partner with local stakeholders to perform biennial reviews to help CTE programs meet the needs of local communities.
- Increases flexibility: The bill increases from 10 percent to 15 percent the amount of federal funds states can set aside to assist eligible students in rural areas or areas with a significant number of CTE students. It also gives states more flexibility to use federal funds to support CTE programs that are focused on unique and changing education and economic needs or state-based innovation.
IMPROVING ALIGNMENT WITH IN-DEMAND JOBS
- Supports innovative learning opportunities: The bill promotes work-based learning and evaluates CTE providers on their ability to effectively prepare students for the workforce. The bill also encourages state leaders to better integrate their career and technical education services with other state-led programs, helping to provide individuals access to a more seamless and efficient workforce development system.
- Builds better partnerships: The bill encourages stronger engagement with employers by ensuring local business leaders are involved in the development of career and technical education and the performance goals set at the state and local levels. These reforms will help students learn the skills they need to compete for jobs that exist in their local communities now and in the future.
- Addresses state and local needs: The bill empowers state leaders with more flexibility to direct federal resources to CTE programs that provide students with skills to fill available jobs in their states and communities. Under the legislation, state leaders will be able to use federal funds to support programs focused on in-demand industries or occupations or on state-based innovation.
INCREASING TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
- Ensures secondary programs deliver results: At the secondary level, the bill streamlines the number of performance measures used to evaluate CTE programs and aligns these performance measures with those set by each state under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The bill also replaces the unreliable “technical skill proficiency” indicator with a state-determined indicator to help ensure taxpayer dollars are supporting CTE programs that prepare students to continue their education or start their careers.
- Ensures postsecondary programs deliver results: At the postsecondary level, the bill streamlines the number of performance measures to better aligns these with the performance measures in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. These reforms will help ensure CTE programs prepare students to further their education or compete in the workforce.
- Encourages public input: Current law requires states to negotiate their targeted levels of performance with the Secretary of Education. Under the legislation, states will set performance goals through an open process that includes input from local education leaders, parents and students, workforce development boards, community and business representatives, and others.
- Protects taxpayers: Under the bill, states will include targeted levels of performance in the state plan, as well as report and annually publish the results on how they perform. This will provide students, taxpayers, and state and local leaders the information necessary to hold CTE programs accountable for results.