down Go Back to Point of View Re-energizing a Perkins Act Reauthorization: Law Should Better Reflect Innovations in Career and Technical Education Published mar. 21, 2013 Jobs for the Future Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share via Email February was National Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month, so it seems appropriate to acknowledge and continue this celebration of college and career readiness by renewing our call for the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, the federal grant that provides critical funding for these programs in public high schools and two-year colleges. What CTE Month highlighted this year is the national urgent need to prepare students to earn postsecondary credentials and develop the work skills needed to succeed in today’s careers.However, federal CTE legislation, which has not been reauthorized since 2006, is lagging behind practice and needs to catch up. Communities and states across the country are implementing dynamic CTE programs that are launching students along a pathway toward college and career success. This work needs to move from programmatic to systemic, and be scaled nationwide, to truly have the impact that our students and employers need. A strong, timely Perkins Act reauthorization can encourage just that.A reauthorized Perkins Act could address a number of challenges facing states, school districts, postsecondary institutions, and business partnerships. These include:Making a relatively small funding stream effective at leveraging improved outcomes, including for low-income and underrepresented populationsA need for reliable, meaningful, and comparable outcome data across education and workforce, and better data procedures across systemsA need to improve secondary through postsecondary transitions and momentum into postsecondary, using evidence-based strategiesEnsuring relevance to high-demand, well-paying, and growing career opportunitiesAdequacy of educator and guidance/career counselor preparation, professional development, and staffingCoordination with other federal legislation, including the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Higher Education Act, Adult Education, and othersJFF strongly believes that the solutions to these challenges should come from the evidence base being developed in states and districts around the country. Our Pathways to Prosperity Network reflects the importance of integrating CTE with academics and ensuring a continuum of employer-led, work-based learning experiences. The Network’s nine states (and growing) are developing regional 9-14 career pathways and implementing career academies that bridge through postsecondary education.From our work with many career-focused early college high schools, we’ve learned the importance of momentum into college, student supports, accelerated learning, and college/career navigation for low-income or first-generation college-going students. And our work on career pathways for adults has taught us about the importance of teaching academic skills within the context of technical courses to make the learning more engaging and meaningful, and the importance of helping adults attain stackable credentials so that they can re-enter the labor market quickly.From these efforts, we know that strong CTE programs share some key components. Namely, they:Establish an expectation of postsecondary successClearly articulate pathways to postsecondary credential attainmentEnsure curricula are aligned with the Common Core and other standards, as well as work readiness and occupational skills and credentialsMake efficient use of time and resourcesPromote acceleration including opportunities for dual enrollment and/or early college in high schoolEstablish strong secondary/postsecondary partnerships focused on student momentum and supportsProvide comprehensive career counseling and academic advisementProvide work-based learning experiences that foster career readiness and employabilityBased on the results of our work with partners to date, JFF believes that Perkins reauthorization can significantly improve the quality and outcomes of CTE pathways nationwide by encouraging:Rigor and strong program accountabilityCTE pathways to postsecondary and career successAlignment and coordination of systemsStrategic partnerships and collaborationScale up of evidence-based innovative pathways and program designs, and invention of new promising pathways and designsWhile the policies in the current Perkins Act may allow some of these strategies to be implemented, they do not adequately encourage them. Reauthorization of Perkins presents an important opportunity to support state and local innovation and the scaling of what works.There is little else in the country that lends itself to bipartisan cooperation than promoting effective education for young people to meet the urgent needs of employers, our economy, our communities, and students themselves. We hope others around the country will join in a call for reauthorization so that we can keep the celebration of innovation and effective CTE going, not just for one month, but year-round.