Here’s what local school leaders need to know about the new federal CTE law (Part 1)

On July 31, 2018, President Trump signed  into law a bill to reauthorize and rename the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act of 2006 as the Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the 21st Century Act.

This new act has been dubbed “Perkins V” even though Perkins is no longer part of its name.  For purposes of this post, we’ll refer to the new law using this shorthand name to save time and space.

Here’s what local school leaders need to know about the new law:


Perkins V will take effect on July 1, 2019.  (The old Perkins law and the existing state CTE plan will remain in effect for the 2018-19 school year. ) The new law attempts to more closely align with both the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

July 1, 2019 will mark the beginning of a one-year transition period.  During the 2019-20 transition year (and even before then), states and local grant recipients (school districts and consortiums) will need to do the planning necessary to fully transition to the new law.  For states. this  includes developing new overall plans and new accountability plans.  States will have the option to submit a scaled–down one-year transition plan prior to submitting their four-year plans (reduced from six-year plans under current law).  The target date for states to submit their new (four-year) plans is the following spring (Spring 2020).

The local plan as it’s called under current law is renamed the “local application” for purposes of Perkins V, and is restructured into three pieces: actual application components, a comprehensive needs assessment, and consultation requirements.  Each eligible recipient (school district or consortium) must submit a local application to be eligible for funding, and local applications will cover the same time period as the state plan—four years.

One of the biggest impacts on local schools will be the new requirement to complete a comprehensive needs assessment.  This will require schools or consortia to develop a local stakeholder engagement process, in which representatives from business and industry, non-profit organizations, and secondary education partners as well as K-12 educators will look at local labor market and employer needs, student performance and program quality.  The initial needs assessment must be completed and submitted along with each local school’s application to the state at the beginning of the grant period.  In addition, local recipients will be required to update their needs assessment at least once every two years.

The needs assessment should include reviews of at least five elements:

  • student performance on state-determined performance indicators, including the performance of special populations and subgroups;
  • whether programs are of sufficient size, scope, and quality to meet the needs of all students served by the recipient school or consortium and are meeting labor market needs;
  • progress toward the implementation of CTE programs and programs of study;
  • how the recipient school or consortium will improve recruitment, retention, and training of CTE professionals, including underrepresented groups; and
  • progress toward implementation of equal access to high-quality CTE courses and programs of study, for all students.

The new law also contains consultation requirements alluded to above. Each local grant recipient is required to consult with a number of groups during the needs assessment process and development of the local application, an expansion of the consultation process included in current law regarding the local plan.

These groups include secondary and postsecondary educators, administrators and other support staff; state or local workforce development boards; business and industry representatives; parents and students; representatives of special populations; representatives of agencies serving out-of-school youth, homeless children and youth, and at-risk youth; representatives of Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations in the state (where applicable); and any other stakeholders required by the state agency receiving the federal funds.

In addition, continued consultation is required with these groups, with specific parameters determined by the state agency receiving the federal funds. This continued consultation may address updates to the needs assessment, ensure that programs remain responsive to labor market and employer needs, give employers opportunities to provide input into programs, identify work-based learning opportunities, and ensure funding is coordinated with other local resources.

We will explore additional changes made by Perkins V in a separate posting.