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States Have a Chance to Align Career-Technical Education Plans With ESSA

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It's easy to remember the federal education proposals that fizzled out or failed to get off the starting line during the last two-plus years. But President Donald Trump did sign a reauthorization of the federal law for career and technical education into law last summer, more than two years after President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act.

A new set of recommendations from several education groups argues that as states prepare their new plans for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which will fully kick in for the 2020-21 school year, they should try to align them with ESSA and use CTE programs as a school improvement tool. 

In addition, "Innovating for Equity and Excellence" says states should focus on improving the CTE performance of student subgroups, even though the 2018 Perkins update doesn't require states to do so. And states could also combine ESSA and Perkins funding to address a lack of educators in the latter, the report notes—the report says 32 states say they have a shortage of CTE teachers.  

"Based on whatever your vision is for learning in your state, likely it's going to include preparing students for the workforce," said Monica Almond, a senior associate at the Alliance for Excellent Education and the lead author of the set of recommendations. "The two should go hand in hand."

The report also looks at the number of state ESSA plans that include metrics that overlap with those required under the Perkins law. You can see the results below:

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The new state Perkins plans are due in April of next year and run for four years, although Almond said she believed many states will have their plans done and dusted a few months before then.

In addition to the Alliance, the recommendations were put together by the Center for American Progress, the Learning Policy Institute, and the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, among others. 

Read the full set of recommendations below:

Photo: High school seniors Alex Yates, left, and David Romero work on an assembly line machine in a mechatronics class in the career and technical education program at Warren County High School in McMinnville, Tenn., in 2017. The technology skills they learn in the class help prepare them for jobs in the area's booming automotive industry. (Joe Buglewicz for Education Week)

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