PERHAPS THE MOST CHALLENGING COMPONENTS of the new Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006 are the changes the law requires regarding accountability and program improvement. While the 1998 law focused its accountability provisions on state systems, the 2006 law extends the accountability requirements down to local programs as well.
In addition, the new law requires states and locals to measure and report on separate core performance indicators for secondary and postsecondary students. States and programs that fail to meet at least 90 percent of any performance measure for any core performance indicator must successfully implement an improvement plan within one year or risk losing a portion or all of their federal Perkins funds.
As states and local leaders develop their implementation plans, it is important that they keep in mind the significant implications that changes in the law's accountability requirements have for CTE. Perhaps Hans Meeder said it best during ACTE's first-ever Webcast when he said that CTE has a critical 18-month window of opportunity to develop accountability plans that lead the field toward becoming a system of excellence. (A link to the Webcast can be accessed at www.acteonline. org/webcast.)
The new law takes an important step toward aligning the Perkins Acts' academic measures with the academic measures created in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001. However, the attempt to align Perkins with NCLB creates a significant challenge in that students often do not participate in CTE until after 10th grade.
Since NCLB only requires states to report scores once for high school students, poor academic performance reports, the bulk of which focus on third through eighth grade, could put a school district in jeopardy of losing its federal Perkins funds, the largest federal investment in high schools.
The new Perkins law does allow states to use additional academic indicators to demonstrate academic growth. Perhaps Congress did not intend to do so, but it also creates an incentive for CTE to strengthen coordination with elementary and middle schools such as starting more …