House Education and the Workforce Committee Approves CTE Reauthorization Bill

A decade after Congress last reauthorized the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act, the House Education and the Workforce Committee unanimously approved the Strengthening Career and Technical Education Act (H.R. 5587) on July 7.

“Today, we’ve taken another important step to ensure every American has access to the skills and education they need to compete in the workforce,” said Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “Career and technical education has placed countless individuals on the path to success, and this bipartisan legislation will empower more individuals to follow that same path.”

Also voicing his support for the bill, Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) said the legislation “will ensure that students, especially historically disadvantaged and underserved students, are prepared for success in high-demand jobs that offer living wages, employer benefits, and opportunities for meaningful career advancement.”

Students working on a Mechanical Drone ProjectH.R. 5587 would authorize Perkins CTE state grants at $1.13 billion in FY 2017 with incremental increases up to $1.21 billion in FY 2022 and maintain formula funding to states and then districts. The bill would streamline the number of performance measures used to evaluate CTE programs and align them with accountability measures in the Every Student Succeeds Act.

At a minimum, the state plans would include the percentage of CTE concentrators who graduate from high school; CTE concentrator performance on state assessments; and the percentage of CTE concentrators who are in postsecondary education or advanced training, military, or unsubsidized employment. States could also include data on the percentage of students who attained postsecondary credit or participated in work-based learning.

The bill reflects many of NASSP’s policy recommendations on Perkins reauthorization, including state leadership activities that are focused on providing professional development for CTE teachers; developing statewide programs of study; and establishing statewide partnerships among school districts, institutions of higher education, and employers. Districts may use funds for professional development for principals or other school leaders, offer introductory courses focused on career exploration and career awareness in middle schools, and develop school graduation and career plans among other activities. NASSP was also pleased with new language that requires districts to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment in consultation with administrators, teachers, students, and parents.

The committee markup was very cordial, and the only amendments were all adopted unanimously, including ones allowing local use of funds for arts and design integration and maker spaces.

No date has been set for House consideration of H.R. 5587, and it’s going to be a busy few weeks of activity on FY 2017 appropriations before members hit the campaign trail. Sens. Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Robert Casey (D-PA) have also been leading a bipartisan effort on the Senate side to draft a Perkins reauthorization bill, but it’s unclear if their bill will be introduced before the 114th Congress adjourns in January. Stay tuned here on the School of Thought blog for future updates.

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