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OVAE: Office of Vocational and Adult Education
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Transmittal of State Plan Guide for Perkins 1998

Program Memorandum -- OVAE/DVTE -- FY99-7

Date: January 29, 1999
To: State Directors of Vocational-Technical Education
State Directors of Community, Technical and Junior Colleges
State Tech-Prep Coordinators
From: Patricia W. McNeil
Subject: Transmittal of State Plan Guide (Approved by OMB)

This memorandum transmits the OMB-approved State plan guide for the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998 (Perkins III).

The framework for developing your State plans is the new vision of vocational and technical education for the 21st century and the legislative intent of Perkins III. The Act envisions that students will achieve challenging academic and vocational standards, be prepared for postsecondary education and further learning, and attain the skills needed to pursue high-skill, high-wage careers, not just entry-level jobs. The new law also redefines the relationship between the Federal government and the States, giving States greater flexibility in the use and administration of program funds in return for enhanced accountability for performance.

Signed into law October 31, 1998, Perkins III represents over four years of work on the part of Congress and the Department of Education, in cooperation with other Federal agencies and the States and local agencies affected by its policies, to modernize the Federal approach to supporting vocational education. Departures from the past approach include:

Increased State Flexibility

The Act eliminates a number of prescriptive administrative requirements and restrictions as well as set-asides for specific activities. States now plan for basic grants, tech-prep, and State leadership activities, developing their own, State-specific strategies to determine how to best address the needs of specific populations or provide specialized services.

Accountability

Perkins III builds on the 1990 Amendments performance measurement system to create a new performance accountability system. Each State must identify specific measures and targeted levels of performance to track its achievements in four specific outcome areas. The State may choose to add indicators to the four core indicators required by the Act. The State plan must include the State's proposed indicators and levels of performance for the first two years covered by the State plan. The Act requires the Department to work with each State to reach agreement on the State's levels of performance. States that exceed agreed upon performance levels for Perkins III, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, and Title I of WIA are eligible for incentive grants. Prior to the third program year, the Department and each State will reach agreement on the levels of performance for the remaining years covered by the plan. Each year, the State will report to us on the levels of performance achieved on the core indicators, on additional indicators the State is tracking, and the levels of performance for special populations.

We recognize the difficulties inherent in launching this system: new data collections, new information management systems, and new methods to establish targeted performance levels for student outcomes that, as a system, vocational education has never been required to track. We expect the process of developing the national performance accountability system to be a "continuous improvement" process, and look forward to working with you to refine the process, in order to make this system a useful tool for the States, the Department, and Congress. The Department will provide additional guidance on these issues over time.

Program Quality and Improvement

Perkins III requires that Federal funds be invested in high-quality programs. The Act continues to emphasize reforms begun in the 1990 Act, such as integration of academic and vocational education, educating students in all aspects of an industry, and linking secondary and postsecondary education. The Act increases the emphasis of the Federal vocational education program on the integration of high-level academics and ensuring that students in vocational education are taught to the same challenging academic standards as other students. Other strategies emphasized by the Act include ensuring that students also achieve challenging vocational, and technical skill standards, improving and expanding the use of technology, involving parents and employers, and providing quality professional development. Finally, both the basic grant and tech-prep focus on ensuring that students are well-prepared for further education, including four-year postsecondary institutions and beyond when appropriate, as well as being prepared for careers, not just entry-level jobs.

Providing quality education for members of special populations continues to be a purpose of the Act. The method for achieving this goal has changed, giving States flexibility for designing services and strategies for ensuring that these students achieve high standards, but requiring States to track the progress of members of these groups in meeting the State performance levels. In the State plan, you will describe your State's strategies for providing access and services to students that will ensure their success in the areas of knowledge and skill attainment, employment, and further education. Similarly, your State plan will describe your plans for services to individuals in correctional institutions and for preparing individuals for nontraditional employment and training.

The tech-prep program has moved from a planning and demonstration program to an on-going effort, with the emphasis on program expansion and improvement. States are urged to continue to submit their Tech-Prep application with their State plans. Guidance on the Tech-Prep application is included in this package.

Planning and Linkages

The Act contains significant requirements for the involvement of a variety of stakeholders in planning for the basic grant program and tech-prep and for identifying the State's indicators of performance.

One of the primary goals in streamlining the Perkins Act is to make it easier for States to provide vocational education services as part of coordinated systems in the State for school-to-work transition, for secondary education reform and improvement, and postsecondary workforce preparation, consistent with each State's goals and strategies for these systems. The Act promotes broad consultation in planning processes, and invites States to submit plans for Perkins III -- particularly postsecondary vocational education -- as part of unified plans under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA). States are required to describe coordination and collaboration with other programs, including those authorized under WIA, and should give particular attention to describing the role of postsecondary vocational education in the one-stop career center delivery system established by WIA. The Improving America's Schools Act (IASA) allows States to apply for federal program funds, including Perkins III funds, through a single, simplified consolidated plan. We encourage States to use the new flexibility to create quality education opportunities in partnership with other State education and workforce development programs.

Please note, with respect to the program memorandum FY 99-2, that the Cash Management Improvement Act (CMIA) is now fully in effect with respect to the Perkins III programs as well as other education programs. Further, the reference to the General Education Provisions Act on page 1 of the Program Memorandum FY 99-2 should be to section 427(b).

State plans are due no later than April 12, 1999. Each State must have a State plan for vocational and technical education. It may be a one-year transitional plan, leading to a five-year unified plan under WIA or to a five-year State vocational and technical education plan. For States with consolidated plans under the Improving America's Schools Act, another option is to apply for Perkins III funds through that consolidated plan.

You may revise your State plan annually, if necessary. Every State is required by the Act to review its State plan following the second program year, and make necessary revisions for the final three years of the Act. This requirement corresponds to the Act's provisions allowing States to adjust their performance levels after the second year. We strongly encourage States to plan to review their status on performance, their strategies, and their State plans following FY 2000.

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Last Modified: 10/16/2007