Magazine article Techniques

Evolving and Influential ESEA Law Affects CTE

Magazine article Techniques

Evolving and Influential ESEA Law Affects CTE

Article excerpt

THE ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ACT (ESEA), known as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in its most recent iteration, is the largest source of federal funding for elementary and secondary education. Originally passed in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society reforms, the law traditionally has focused on ensuring that all children receive a fair, equal and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education. That purpose remains intact today, but the law includes a host of new programs and some additional new purposes, many which have implications for career and technical education (CTE). ESEA programs include several that have potential to directly benefit CTE, such as professional development for teachers and principals provided in Title II of the Act, and the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling program that allows career counseling. Troops-to-Teachers, dropout prevention, literacy and a host of other programs are also authorized under ESEA.

For better or worse, ESEA has evolved beyond program support. The ESEA of today is as much a law to leverage and measure progress of all students as it is to provide additional resources to "level the playing field" for disadvantaged students. The focus on accountability and improvement emerged prior to NCLB, but NCLB's accountability provisions, centered on adequate yearly progress--the measure of student academic achievement and progress--brought in a new era. Congress is preparing to change the accountability provisions but it is unlikely they will go away.

There are some practical reasons for CTE practitioners to pay attention to ESEA's accountability provisions. For example, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) requires that schools meet ESEA secondary indicators of performance, such as proficiency levels established by the state's academic assessments and graduation rate targets. Perkins also links the definition of "coherent and rigorous content" to ESEA's challenging academic standards language. The connections between these two federal laws arc primarily due to Perkins' linkages to ESEA rather than vice versa. Perhaps this is to be expected when considering ESEA's size and far-reaching scope. Elementary- and secondary-related bills that are approved by Congress are often eventually housed under ESEA. …

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