Carl Perkins Act

Signed into law on October 31, 1998, the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998 (Perkins III) sets out a new vision of vocational and technical education for the 21st century. The central goals of this new vision are improving student achievement and preparing students for postsecondary education, further learning, and careers.
Perkins III promotes reform, invocation, and continuous improvement in vocational and technical education to ensure that students acquire the skills and knowledge they need to meet challenging state academic standards and industry-recognized skill standards, and to prepare for postsecondary education, further learning, and a wide range of opportunities in high skill, high-wage careers.
Education Reform: Perkins III supports the alignment of vocational and technical education with state and local efforts to reform secondary schools and improve postsecondary education. The implementation of the new law promises to make vocational and technical education programs an integral part of these efforts.
Seamless Education and Workforce Development Systems: Together with the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which restructures employment training, adult education, and vocational rehabilitation programs, Perkins III promotes the development of integrated, "one-stop" education and workforce development systems at the state and local level.
Focus on Quality: Perkins III focuses the federal investment in vocational and technical education on high-quality programs that:
  • integrate academic and vocational education
  • promote student attainment of challenging academic and vocational and technical standards
  • provide students with strong experience in, and understanding of all aspects of an industry
  • address the needs of the individuals who are members of special populations;
  • involve parents and employers
  • provide strong linkages between secondary and postsecondary education
  • develop, improve and expand the use of technology; and
  • provide professional development for teachers, counselors, and administrators.
Flexibility: A number of prescriptive administrative requirements and restrictions have been eliminated to give states, school districts, and postsecondary institutions greater flexibility to design services and activities that meet the needs of their students and communities.
Accountability: To promote continuous program improvement, Perkins III creates a State performance accountability system. The Secretary and states reach agreement on annual levels of performance for a number of "core indicators" specified in the law:
Student attainment of challenging state-established academic, and vocational and technical, skill proficiencies Students attainment of a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent, a proficiency credential in conjunction with a secondary school diploma, or a postsecondary degree or credential; Placement in retention, and completion of, postsec¿ndary education or advanced training, placement in military service, or placement or retention in employment; and Students participation in and completion of vocational and technical education programs that lead to nontraditional training and employment.
Incentive grants will be awarded to states that exceed agreed-upon performance levels for Perkins III, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, and employment training services authorized under Title I of the Workforce Investment Act. Grants may be reduced to states that do not meet agree-upon performance levels.
Tech-Prep: Perkins III reauthorizes Tech-Prep, an important catalyst for secondary school reform and postsecondary education improvement efforts. Perkins III promotes the use of work-based learning and new technologies in tech-pre programs and encourages partnerships with business labor organizations, and institutions of higher education that award baccalaureate degrees.
The Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) will give State and local recipients of funds the flexibility, guidance, and technical assistance they need to take full advantage of the new opportunities created by Perkins III. OVAO will collaborate with other offices of the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, and other federal agencies to promote the development of quality education and workforce systems.
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