The Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education Act was first authorized by the federal government in 1984. The purpose of this act was to increase funding for career and technical education for secondary and post-secondary institutions to prepare students for the workforce. The Act emphasizes high-skill, high-wage, high-demand occupations to enable students to secure employment upon completion of their training.
UA – Pulaski Technical College has benefited from the Perkins Act in various ways throughout the years. Prior to 2006, most of the funding that was received was spent on equipment for the trades—welding, automotive technology, collision repair, and computer labs for information technology. Beginning in 2007, more emphasis was placed on accountability and certifications earned by students in career and technical education areas. Funds were still used for equipment but were expanded to include professional development for faculty and certification preparation for students.
With the re-authorization of Perkins V in 2019, the new Act builds on current law and maintains many of its structural components.
The seven key components are as follows:
1. Builds on current success by maintaining a commitment to programs of study.
“The term ‘program of study’ means a coordinated, nonduplicative sequence of
academic and technical content at the secondary and postsecondary level that—
(A) incorporates challenging State academic standards;
(B) addresses both academic and technical knowledge and skills, including employability skills;
(C) is aligned with the needs of industries in the economy of the State, region, Tribal community, or local area;
(D) progresses in specificity (beginning with all aspects of an industry or career cluster and leading to more occupation-specific instruction);
(E) has multiple entry and exit points that incorporate credentialing; and
(F) culminates in the attainment of a recognized postsecondary credential” (Hyslop, 2018, p. 27).
2. Requires data-driven decision-making.
“One of the most significant new components of Perkins V is the introduction of a comprehensive local needs assessment that requires data-driven decision-making on local spending. The local needs assessment must be completed at the beginning of Perkins V implementation, with results included in the local applications. The needs assessment must include review of student performance, program quality, labor market needs, educator development and special populations’ access to programs.
It must be updated every two years and a large group of stakeholders, including educators, business and industry partners, parents, and students among others, must be consulted during the process. Local funding decisions must be based on the local needs assessment” (Hyslop, 2018, p. 8).
3. Reduces the role of the U.S. Secretary of Education.
“Perkins V legislation did reduce the role of the Secretary in some significant ways. States will no longer negotiate performance targets with the U.S. Department of Educations, but will submit their targets in the state plan. There is also some new, expanded prohibition language ensuring the Secretary cannot incentivize or condition funding on the adoption of any specific instructional content, standards, or curriculum (Hyslop, 2018, p. 9).
4. Increases stakeholder involvement.
“Stakeholder involvement is significantly expanded. Perkins V requires the state to develop performance targets in consultation with stakeholders. States are also directed to set guidelines around requirements for continued consultation with these stakeholders on topics such as updating the needs assessment, ensuring programs are aligned with workforce needs, identifying opportunities for work-based learning, and ensuring funding is coordinated with other local resources” (Hyslop, 2018, p.9)
5. Revises accountability indicators.
Accountability indicators have been reduced from six to three. These indicators are:
1. “The percentage of CTE concentrators who receive a recognized postsecondary credential during participation in or within 1 year of program completion.
2. The percentage of CTE concentrators, who during the second quarter after program completion, remain enrolled in postsecondary education, are in advanced training, military service, or a service program that receives assistance under title I of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (U.S.C. 12511 et seq.), are volunteers as described in section 5(a) of the Peace Corps Act (22 U.S.C. 2504(a)), or are placed or retained in employment.
3. The percentage of CTE concentrators in career and technical education programs and programs of study that lead to non-traditional fields” (Hyslop, 2018, p. 43-44).
6. Enhances efforts to serve special populations.
“The term ‘special populations’ means—
(A) individuals with disabilities;
(B) individuals from economically disadvantaged families, including low-income youth and adults;
(C) individuals preparing for non-traditional fields;
(D) single parents, including single pregnant women;
(E) out-of-workforce individuals;
(F) English learners;
(G) homeless individuals described in section 725 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434a);
(H) youth who are in, or have aged out, of the foster care systems; and
(I) youth with a parent who—
(i) is a member of the armed forces (as such term is defined in section 101(a)(4) of title 10, United States Code); and
(ii) is on active duty (as such term is defined in section 101(d)(1) of such title) (Hyslop, 2018, p. 29)
7. Encourages innovation.
“States can now retain up 15% of their funding designated for local programs to distribute through an alternative method. Funds have to go to either rural areas, areas with high percentages or high numbers of CTE students, or areas with gaps in performance between groups of students. These funds must be targeted for fostering innovation or for programs of student aligned with high-skill, high-wage, or in-demand occupations or industries. Also a new competitive grant program focused on innovation and modernization has been added. And funding can now support students in the “middle grades” (which includes grades five through eight) to offer innovative middle school CTE programs that provide students with earlier opportunities to explore career options (Hyslop, 2018, p. 10).
Terry L. Hunkapiller,
University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College
3000 West Scenic Drive
North Little Rock, AR 72118