In the summer of 2018, Congress enacted the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (commonly referred to as Perkins V) reauthorizing the nation’s career and technical education (CTE) law for the first time since 2006. The updated law passed with strong bipartisan support and subsequently received the first sizable two-year increase in funding for CTE in over a decade.
This post was co-written with Terrance Sullivan, former KnowledgeWorks director of state policy.
One of the most important features of the new law is a greater emphasis on personalized learning strategies that ensure students graduate from CTE programs with the knowledge and skills to succeed in today’s rapidly changing economy. While the federal career and technical education law has always emphasized career pathways and college in high school opportunities, this updated version more systemically embeds personalized learning into the course offerings, programs and approaches of States, school districts and community colleges.
States, community colleges and districts have a unique opportunity to leverage these improvements as they develop their plans for implementation of Perkins V. This resource will help key stakeholders better understand these opportunities and explore strategies for leveraging them to advance personalized learning.
1. Embed Personalized Learning into the State’s Vision for Career and Technical Education.
Perkins V now explicitly mentions competency-based education and college in high school programs, such as early college high schools and dual enrollment, in the definition of CTE. Since this definition shapes nearly all activities and programs that leverage Federal funding, the federal government has clarified that personalized learning strategies can be advanced with Federal funds. States, school districts, and community colleges should evolve their CTE programs to align with this new definition to ensure students benefit from personalized teaching and learning strategies.
2. Invest in Personalized CTE Strategies at the State and Local Level.
Under the new law, school districts and community colleges must describe how they will use funds to develop and implement programs that enable students to acquire college credit while in high school. The law also allows states, school districts and community colleges to use funds to support the development and evaluation of competency-based curricula and post-secondary opportunities during high school at no cost to students. State and local officials should leverage these opportunities to systemically advance personalized learning.
3. Develop A State Strategy for Expanding College in High School Opportunities.
Perkins V now requires states to describe how they will provide opportunities for students to engage in college in high school programs and how they will make information about those programs available to students. State leaders and community stakeholders should leverage this opportunity to expand student access to high quality college in high school programs including early college high school and dual enrollment. These models have a proven track record of increasing student enrollment, persistence and completion in postsecondary programs, particularly for students from historically underserved groups. College in high school programs can be a critical tool for closing postsecondary achievement gaps.
4. Make Completion of College in High School Programs a Measure of Success for State CTE Systems.
States may now include the percentage of students graduating high school with postsecondary credits as a measure of success in the state’s accountability system for CTE programs. States should embed this important measure into their systems and analyze outcomes to identify gaps and best practices so the state can replicate impactful strategies throughout the state.
5. Leverage New Grant Resources to Study Innovative CTE Models.
Perkins V authorizes a new Innovation and Modernization grant program to help identify impactful CTE models and strategies. States, school districts, and community colleges can apply for these resources to study promising personalized learning practices that aim to improve the delivery and outcomes of career and technical education programs.