It’s an exciting time for the Carl D Perkins Act, with Perkins V rolling out July 2019. While the act still funds Career & Technical Education (CTE) initiatives, the familiar old Perkins IV will see some major facelifts. The shiny new Perkins V reauthorization rolls out new funding levels, a shift in accountability, a more flexible approach to professional development, and much more. This article explains the major changes you need to know and provides advice on how to take advantage of them.
Carl D. Perkins overview and reauthorization
As a quick refresher, the Carl D. Perkins Act is the primary way the federal government funds Career and Technical Education (CTE) and influences CTE policy. The act was first authorized in 1984, and it was reauthorized in 1990, 1998, and 2006. The bipartisan Perkins Act was up for reauthorization again in 2012 and made its way through the House and Senate with ease. Legislators signed it into law on July 31, 2018, with authorization covering fiscal years 2019-2024. The good news: The Perkins Act increased funds for the first time in about 30 years, boasting a $75 million increase in FY2018 and another $70 million increase in FY2019. The bad news: Federal aid accounts for only about 8-12% of educational funding and Perkins is only a portion of that. In other words, Perkins likely won’t cover all your CTE costs, but it’s a great start.
When will Perkins V take effect?
Perkins V will be implemented in July 2019, giving state and local regulating bodies a full planning year from reauthorization. Plans will now run for four years, with an evaluation due every two years. While this might seem more burdensome (it is), it’s designed to account for any major industry or employment changes that might take place over the two-year time period that could affect technical education. In the past, Perkins wasn’t reevaluated regularly and it couldn’t keep up with the rapid pace of technological innovation. To implement Perkins V, states can take one of two routes in July 2019:
- Submit a one-year transition plan in July 2019 and a separate four-year plan in Spring 2020
- Submit a one-year transition plan plus a four-year plan in July 2019
Insider tip: States can choose to submit their Perkins V plans at the same time as their Workplace Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) plans.
Major changes in Perkins V that teachers should know about
The Perkins V reauthorization brought about the first major updates to this act. The goals: Give more power to states and local governments while creating a stronger alignment with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and WIOA. Perkins V also seeks to account for the speed of change and the increasing market demand for more skilled technical workers. We’ve included important changes — and opportunities — for educators under Perkins V below.
The law requires more input from diverse stakeholders in the planning process.
Perkins V puts the impetus on state and local governments to include teachers, CTE program reps, and other faculty members in the planning process — similar to the changes in ESSA. Often, however, state chiefs inadvertently leave a lot of key stakeholders out of the planning process, as seen with ESSA.
Advice: Look for opportunities to get involved and advocate for CTE. By law, states have to hold a public commentary on the plan, so make sure you go and provide your feedback.
Middle school grades can now receive Perkins funds.
In the past, Perkins funds were only given to secondary (grades 9-12) and postsecondary institutions, with some exceptions made for 7-8 grades. However, Perkins V wants to start the CTE pipeline earlier, with grades 5-8 participating in CTE programs. The $75 million and $70 million funding increases do help account for this change. But the money is all coming from the same pot, so schools will have to get crafty with how they use it.
Advice: There are a few ways to get the most “bang for your buck,” even with funds stretching to more grades. For example, the Perkins Act states that when using its funding for equipment, you have to use it the way you stated in order to be compliant. In the past, this couldn’t be extended to middle schools but now it can, eliminating the need to buy multiple sets of the same equipment.
Educators can use their Perkins V funding for professional development initiatives.
Under Perkins V, the required use of funds includes professional development. According to Project Lead the Way’s VP of Policy and Governance, Will Krebs, there are nine required uses of funds that pertain to educator professional development. Teachers can use Perkins V funding for
- Advance knowledge of pedagogical practices
- Developing appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities
- Teaching students with disabilities and English Language Learners
- Effective use of community spaces, such as Makerspaces
- Integration of academic standards
- Using labor market information to inform programs
- Current industry equipment, technologies, standards, and credentials
- Managing CTE programs
- Improving student achievement and closing gaps in student performance
Advice: Teachers will be hard pressed to find legitimate professional development that doesn’t fit under these Perkins V required uses of funds. So, take advantage of this flexibility!
To be considered a CTE concentrator, a student must complete two — rather than three — programs of study.
Under Perkins V, a CTE concentrator is “a student who completes at least two courses in a single program or program of study.” Remember: under Perkins IV, a student had to complete three courses to be considered a CTE concentrator. So, you’ll likely see more CTE concentrators, while at the same time experience an initial dip in CTE concentrator performance.
Advice: The law doesn’t define what “a course” is, so consider what constitutes a course for the sake of your CTE concentrators. For example, a longer, more complex course might span two or three semesters, which would make it more difficult for students to become CTE concentrators.
Programs of study must culminate in an industry certification or a postsecondary credential for higher education.
You’ll also need to pay attention to the definition for “program of study.” Under Perkins V, the program of study is “a coordinated, non-duplicative sequence of academic and technical content” that
- Incorporates state standards
- Addresses both academic and technical knowledge/skills, including employability skills
- Aligns with the needs of the local economy
- Progresses in specificity, beginning with all aspects of an industry and leading to occupation-specific instruction
- Incorporates credentialing and culminates in a postsecondary credential
The goal of Perkins V is to ensure that programs of study function like funnels, starting out with exploration and leading to certification without duplicating any courses along the way. Remember: Not every course has to end in certification or a postsecondary credential, but every program of study does. To add a layer of complexity, most industry certifications are state-specific. So, make sure you check your state’s list of approved certifications.
Advice: Don’t be afraid to get creative with industry certifications. For example, one particular program might culminate in students becoming proficient enough in Microsoft Excel to sit for the certification exam. Even though they didn’t take a Microsoft Excel program, they learned the skills they needed for the certification along the way.
States are now responsible for determining performance objectives.
Under Perkins IV, the US Department of Education was responsible for approving performance metrics. Perkins V, however, shifts that responsibility to the states. In the new model, states will be responsible for evaluating how well CTE concentrators perform in a combination of the following metrics:
- Graduation rates (aligned with ESSA)
- Academic proficiency (aligned with ESSA)
- Postsecondary placement
- A measure of CTE quality, as determined by each individual state
- A second quality indicator that is “statewide, valid, reliable, and comparable across the state”
Advice: While states figure out how they’ll regulate performance metrics, look to align with your state’s ESSA plan, particularly for the measure of school quality.
Focusing on “employability skills,” Perkins V aligns itself with local employment needs.
Perkins V focuses a lot more on both technical skills and, for the first time, on employability skills. While there’s no definition to explain what “employability skills” are, Perkins V references the need to prepare students for “in-demand industry sectors or occupations.” Interestingly, Perkins V includes existing sectors as well as potential sectors under the umbrella of “in-demand industry sectors.” For example, if you live in an area that will soon be home to Amazon 2.0, you can now use Perkins V funds to prepare students for jobs in that emerging sector. It’s location-specific, it’s technical, and it’s covered under Perkins V! The goal here is to make sure that students are gaining the CTE training and skillsets that will positively impact their local communities. To that end, Perkins V funds can be used to bring in local industry leaders, create work-based learning programs, take students through simulated work environments, and much more.
Advice: Take advantage of Perkins V for forging connections with local industries that need a strong emerging workforce. We’re looking at you, manufacturing!