The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act is the life-blood of career and technical education (CTE) programs across the country.
The Perkins Act is responsible for delivering a lump sum of federal money to states for the purpose of funding their CTE programs. The states then distribute that funding out to secondary and postsecondary schools. Schools are required to use those funds to develop educational programs that prepare students for technical careers in the local economy.
When the government reauthorized the Perkins Act in July 2018, it stipulated that Perkins V would go into effect July 1, 2019, with 2019-2020 serving as a transition year. Throughout this time, states must prepare their six-year funding plan and submit it to the federal government by the spring of 2020 to ensure Perkins funding through June 20, 2025. (In FY2024, the Perkins Act will be up for reauthorization once again.) With July 1, 2019 drawing closer, let’s dive into what this means for you and your school.
Psst: If you’d like to brush up on the Perkins Act basics, check out our blog post about how to get Perkins funding! We also provide a detailed analysis of the biggest changes from Perkins IV to Perkins V.
Perkins V puts extra emphasis on aligning with state-identified, in-demand industries and accommodating the needs of rural, underserved communities
Perkins V puts the power in the hands of the people, so to speak. The idea is that every locality faces unique challenges and economic needs. So, Perkins V gives states the flexibility to fund programs that teach the technical skills most needed in each specific community. The practical outcomes of this new emphasis include:
- Funding can now be spent on students as young as fifth grade! Previously, funds were set aside for secondary (grades 9-12) and postsecondary (junior colleges and universities) schools exclusively. If you’re a secondary or postsecondary teacher, you’ll likely receive as much Perkins funding as you have previously — or get even more — because the overall amount of funding has increased. However, it does mean that your school will likely want to rethink the CTE pipeline to include younger students.
- Perkins V leverages a process called the “local needs assessment.” This assessment, based entirely on hard data, evaluates where school leaders can best spend their funding. You’ll want to pay close attention to these outcomes, as they will directly impact how Perkins funding can be used at your school. Because the Perkins Act hasn’t been updated since 2006, the technical skills needed in your area are probably much different now than they were back then. So, you can expect the required outcomes of your CTE programs to change in response.
- Perkins V seeks more input from local industries and educational providers. Because the goal is to align with the needs of localities, Perkins V puts the onus on local leaders to drive the discussion about the needs of their community. Within the application process, various windows are built in for community feedback and engagement, so make sure you get involved!
- Perkins V allows states to reserve up to 15% of funds, a 5% increase from Perkins IV. With the increased emphasis on supporting underserved, oftentimes rural communities, the state can now set aside more reserve funds to ensure those areas have access to the learning opportunities available in other communities. Additionally, the state can use these reserve funds to provide more professional development for teachers. Because, as we know, better teachers lead to better student outcomes.
Perkins funding will dramatically reshape the CTE programming at your school and in your community at large. Make sure you get involved so that the students’ and communities’ needs are being met in your school’s CTE initiatives.
Perkins V protects against state-level funding cuts, with (kind of) two exceptions
The good news is that it looks like Perkins funding is here to stay! And Perkins V takes it one step further by essentially ensuring no state or territory can receive less funding in future iterations of the Perkins grant. If you can sense a “but” coming, you’re right. There are two cases in which state funding could be cut:
- If the overall Perkins budget is slashed, states will lose funding accordingly. This isn’t really something you can control on the individual level, apart from strongly advocating for Perkins funding. Most experts agree, however, that Perkins funding will most likely increase over time, rather than decrease.
- If a state fails to spend all of its Perkins funding throughout the year, the amount of money it receives the following year will drop to match the amount actually spent. In other words, make sure you spend all your Perkins funding! This is incredibly important, and you can directly impact this on an individual level.
- Student participation in CTE is a huge reason the Department of Education continues to support this endeavor. With about 12 million CTE participants (students who’ve taken at least one credit of a CTE course) in secondary and postsecondary institutions, it’s easy to see the impact of these programs. And while participation is expected to continue increasing, it’s important to note that it’s an essential aspect of the Perkins funding process.
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So, what does this mean for teachers again?
All of these changes will be in effect July 1, 2019, when Perkins funding is released to states. Most of the higher level operations won’t really impact you, and the current state-to-local formulas aren’t changing (minimum of $15,000 for eligible secondary recipients and a minimum of $50,000 for eligible postsecondary recipients).
You’ll really start to notice the difference when it comes to designing CTE programs. With the added emphasis on providing educational programming that directly connects to community jobs, Perkins V provides several provisions that support Linked Learning and other high-quality career pathway initiatives. This type of school design combines rigorous academics, high-quality CTE, work-based learning, and integrated student support. In fact, secondary institutions can actually use the percentage of students who graduate from high school with work-based learning experience as an optional indicator of program quality. This is a clear incentive for schools to “put their money where their mouth is” so to speak and really start implementing these career-forward programs.
Additionally, Perkins V requires states to provide professional development to core academic and CTE teachers. Schools can actually use their Perkins funding to ensure faculty, paraprofessionals, and other instructors remain current with industry standards by earning industry-recognized licenses, credentials, and certifications.
Overall, the provisions are stricter and much more focused on high-quality college and career pathways — every update reflects this emphasis. Make sure your school and classroom are aligned with the local industry needs and your students are working toward achievable, career-oriented outcomes, like earning certifications. Also, don’t neglect your own training and education! Professional development for teachers is an important aspect of Perkins V and it looks great on your resume.
And, finally, a quick Perkins V vocabulary review
It’s also important to be up-to-date on the new Perkins Act definitions as they will directly impact your CTE program requirements. Here’s what you need to know:
- “Administration” refers specifically to the individuals and organizations responsible for the implementation, empowerment, and supervision of CTE programs.
- Even “Career and Technical Education” has been updated. The new definition specifies that content must be aligned with ESSA’s state-identified academic standards at the secondary level and with rigorous academic standards at the postsecondary level. CTE also encompasses the WIOA term “recognized postsecondary credential,” which is a list of industry-recognized credentials, certificates, and associate degrees. Finally, CTE includes references to work-based learning, career exploration, and secondary-to-postsecondary connections.
- A “CTE Concentrator” can either be: (a) a secondary-level student who completes at least two courses in a single CTE program; or (b) a postsecondary-level student who completes 12 credits in a CTE program. Under Perkins IV, a CTE Concentrator at the secondary level was anyone who completed three courses in a CTE program, so the threshold to be a CTE Concentrator is now lower.
- A “CTE Participant” is any student who completes “not less than one course” in a CTE program, or at least one course.
- Perkins V incorporates a number of ESSA terminologies, with references to dual or concurrent enrollment, early college high schools, English learners, evidence-based, paraprofessionals, specialized instructional support personnel and services, and universal design for learning.
- To be considered a “Program of Study,” the program content must adhere to state standards; address academic knowledge and technical skills; increase in specificity; include multiple entry and exit points; and culminate in the acquisition of an industry-recognized credential. And remember: programs of study can technically extend all the way down to fifth grade now!
- “WIOA-adopted terminology” is also rife throughout Perkins V, with references to career pathways, in-demand industry sectors or occupations, industry or sector partnerships, local and state workforce development boards, out-of-school youth, and recognized postsecondary credentials.
- “Work-based learning” is an incredibly important term in Perkins V. It includes any sustained interactions with industry and/or community professionals in real workplace settings or simulated environments in an educational institution. The interactions must “foster in-depth, first-hand engagement with the tasks required in a given career field.”
There’s a lot to know with the Perkins Act — these resources can help
If you’ve made it this far, you’re truly a champion! The Perkins Act can be incredibly complex, but it’s a great way to fund programs that will directly impact your students’ careers and lives. Here are some additional resources to help you with your Perkins funding:
For more information — or to learn how you can use Perkins funding to purchase SolidProfessor — email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (619) 269-8684.
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