Summary of ACTE's Recommendations for Strengthening Career and Technical Education through Reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act

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ACTE calls on Congress to invest in America's workforce and education systems by strengthening career and technical education (CTE) programs in our nation's high schools and postsecondary institutions as it reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Act. The Perkins program is our nation's primary investment in high schools, a key component of our nation's postsecondary and workforce development systems, and vital to American business. ACTE believes that this is not the time to make drastic changes to the program; instead, it is an opportunity to build upon the Perkins program's successes in providing the career and technical education necessary to create a highly skilled workforce that supports the demands of the 21st century economy. The Association for Career and Technical Education proposes the following to strengthen the Perkins Act:

Purposes

In order to meet the goals of providing youth and adults opportunities for better careers and ensuring America's ability to compete economically in world markets, a reauthorized Perkins Act should emphasize a greater focus on technical skill development and on meeting the needs of business, industry, and the economy. ACTE recommends building on existing purposes related to academic and technical integration, program linkages, and leadership, professional development, and research. ACTE further recommends additional purposes for Perkins that reflect the "value added" of CTE to students' overall education and the elements necessary both inside and outside the classroom for program success.

Defining Career and Technical Education

Significant changes in terminology have taken place as the CTE field continues to advance and evolve. The term "career and technical education" is now being used in schools and states around the country to refer to programs previously termed "vocational education." This change in terminology is reflective of substantial programmatic changes that have also occurred as Perkins is increasingly recognized as crucial to the American workforce development system, resulting in a more diverse and rigorous range of programs preparing students for postsecondary education and careers.

Funding

Over the last decade, increases in federal funding for CTE have not kept pace with inflation, while the costs of operating quality programs have continued to rise. The new law should concentrate on facilitating funding increases and maintaining safeguards to ensure that funds allocated are spent in a manner that directly supports CTE, while maintaining state flexibility to spend funds in areas of high need. The reauthorized Perkins Act should also include an updated formula to help ensure that funds are targeted to areas that fully participate in the program, and modifications to the Tech Prep Program to refocus this funding on innovative approaches to student transition.

Accountability

States are just beginning to gain the benefits of data produced from the overhaul of the accountability system enacted in the 1998 Perkins Act and need an opportunity to observe patterns and change over time. …

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