Before the U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations, Ralph Regula, Chairman
April 26, 2001
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the President's fiscal year 2002 budget request for Vocational and Adult Education. The budget includes a total of $1.8 billion for these programs, which provide financial support for instruction, national research, and technical assistance to high schools, community colleges, and adult education programs in basic, academic and technical skills. The fiscal year 2002 budget request includes $1.2 billion for Vocational Education, including $5.6 million for the Tribally Controlled Postsecondary Vocational Institutions. To promote literacy, the request includes $556.1 million for Adult Education, $17 million for State Grants for Incarcerated Youth Offenders and $5 million for Literacy Programs for Prisoners.
The President's goal for the Federal role in elementary and secondary education is to "leave no child behind." Vocational and adult education programs support this agenda. The vocational programs help secondary schools provide effective career and technical education to prepare youth for postsecondary education and ensure that those students achieve to the same State academic standards as all other students in their schools. The adult education investment gives older youth and adults opportunities to build their numeracy and literacy skills and complete their high school education. Federal adult education funds also support family literacy programs to help parents build literacy skills and support their children's early achievement in reading and math.
Because they serve older youth and adults, these programs have a unique role in preparing individuals with the skills they need to succeed in the economy of the 21st century, continue their education, and exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens. The new economy demands higher levels of literacy and technical skills of all Americans, and employment growth and shortages of skilled employees in some sectors bolster the need for strong career, technical and adult education.
Focus on Performance Accountability
Both the vocational and adult education statutes have strong accountability provisions. These are among the first education programs for which Congress enacted, in 1998, rigorous accountability requirements focused on student achievement and authorized incentive grants to States that exceed their performance targets. Helping States develop accountability systems, and supporting their use in program improvement, is now a large part of the work of our office. The vocational and adult education acts require States to report annually to the Department on student achievement, education, and employment. More important, States are using this information to focus on improving student achievement and must work to continuously improve their performance.
For career and technical education, States must track the rates at which secondary career and technical students complete high school and enter postsecondary education, and the degree to which these students achieve to State academic standards and gain technical skills. They must track whether postsecondary students complete degrees and certificates, and whether departing students secure employment or enter programs to further their education. This year, States sent their first reports to the Department under the new accountability system. Data from those reports will provide "baselines," or points of comparison, for future years' results.
For adult education and literacy programs, States must collect information on improvement in participants' literacy skills, high school or GED completion, further education, and employment. Based on previous performance, States established performance goals for adult education in 1999-2000. This year, in their first report under the new Act, States will compare program performance against their goals.
States that fully implemented Title I Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs in 1999 and exceeded their performance goals for both WIA and the Adult Education Act will receive incentive grants this year. Beginning next year, States will receive incentive grants if they exceed their accountability goals in vocational education, adult education, and workforce investment programs. The budget request proposes appropriations language to give the Secretary the flexibility to reserve the same percentage of funds for incentive grants from vocational and adult education State grants, so that no one program contributes a disproportionate share of funding to the incentive grant reserve.
The FY 2002 request for Vocational Education State Grants is $1.1 billion, the same as the previous year's level. These grants support improvements in career and technical education through curriculum development, teacher training, the introduction of new technology, and student support services in high schools, community colleges, and regional vocational-technical institutes. Across the Nation many career and technical education programs are changing dramatically to meet the combined demand for improved student achievement and preparation for college and careers. Today, strong secondary career and technical education integrates academics with career preparation and exploration, and provides the context and relevance that helps students understand the connection between their studies and their futures. Postsecondary career and technical programs educate students to enter fields with fast-changing skill requirements, where employees need strong academic and technical skill foundations that will allow them to continue to learn and keep pace with changes in their industry.
As an example, the Saunders Trades and Technical High School, a magnet school in Yonkers, New York, provides students with a strong foundation for employment and college by fully integrating a comprehensive college-prep curriculum with intensive technical coursework in environmental technology, architecture, computerized industrial design, chemical technology and other high-skill career areas. To graduate, students must complete 3 years of math -- 1 year more than the State and the school district require for graduation. Eight Advanced Placement courses are built in as electives in the school's sequence of technical coursework. Last year, 86 percent of Saunders graduates enrolled in postsecondary education -- 42 percent at a 4-year college or university and 44 percent at a community college or other postsecondary institution.
The FY 2002 budget request for Tech-Prep Education is $106 million, the same level as last year. Tech-prep supports consortia of high schools, colleges, and technical institutes that work with employers to create challenging programs of study in the academic and technical skills needed for technical careers. Tech-prep can be a broad-based strategy for improving student achievement. For example, Wahalla High School in South Carolina organizes integrated academic and technical curricula along a College-Prep-Tech-Prep continuum. All students, including those bound for 4-year colleges, take a mix of College-Prep and Tech-Prep courses.
Vocational education National Programs funds support research on effective programs and promote effective practice. The Department's $12 million request for National Programs is a decrease of $5.5 million from the previous year, to continue major initiatives. For example, the request will continue funding for the National Centers for Career and Technical Education. Other national activities include research and dissemination of model educational practices in such areas as teacher development and high school and vocational education reform, and development of curriculum and instructional frameworks for integrating academic standards and technical competence. The 1998 reauthorized Perkins Act encourages States to tie their secondary career and technical education program improvement to comprehensive school reform. During the past few years, the Department has used National Programs funds to support research on reform strategies in secondary schools and to disseminate the most promising practices of schools that have successfully integrated high academic standards and career and technical education. National Programs funds also help State and local agencies build and manage their accountability systems, with a focus on using data for decision making and programmatic purposes.
Adult Education and Family Literacy
The request for Adult Education State Grants provides level-funding of $540 million (including $70 million for English Literacy and Civics Education Grants) to contribute to nationwide improvements in adult literacy and high school completion. Adult education programs help adults improve their English-language, reading, writing, and numeracy skills needed for success at work, at home, and as contributing members of American society. Adult education investments serve multiple purposes, not only in terms of job preparedness and support for children, but also health literacy, personal and public safety, and the reduction in the need for public assistance. Federal funds support both daily operating costs and program improvement, and encourage significant State and local investments in literacy programs. Local programs, operated by schools, colleges, and community agencies, use funds to pay for instruction, course materials, teacher training, and new instructional technology. Last year, the State Grant programs served 3.6 million adults.
Adult literacy is critical to children's academic success. We know that parents and caregivers have the largest impact on children's school readiness. Basic education, English literacy, and GED programs help adults not only meet their own life goals but also help their children succeed in school. Many States use a portion of their adult education grants for family literacy programs to help build strong reading and other life skills that parents need to become self-sufficient and successful, and their children need to learn and grow. At least 75,000 parents in adult education programs participate in family literacy services each year. State evaluations show that both parents and children participating in family literacy programs make educational progress, and parents become more involved in helping their children learn.
Preparing limited English proficient individuals for the workplace and for their lives in American society is an important and growing component of adult education services. Each State chooses how much of its adult education funds to spend on English literacy, relative to adult basic education and adult secondary programs. In 1998-99, States spent an estimated 47 percent of their State Grant funds on English literacy classes, yet waiting lists are not uncommon. In recent years, many small States have experienced large rates of growth in English literacy enrollments. In response to this growing need, the English Literacy and Civics Education program was created in fiscal year 2000 to direct funds to States, based on the size of their immigrant population, to support English instruction in the context of civics and citizenship skills. The budget request continues to set aside $70 million of the funds from Adult Education State Grants for English Literacy and Civics Education Grants to all States.
The FY 2002 request for Adult Education National Leadership activities is $9.5 million, $4.5 million less than the previous year, to continue key activities. For example, the request will focus funds on identifying and promoting effective research-based programs and practices, enhancing teacher quality, improving instructional technology, and continuing improvement of data and accountability systems. For example, these funds support training for adult education instructors on how to collect accurate information about student skill levels and gains, and how to use this information to improve instruction and services. Other Adult Education National Leadership activities include evaluating adult education practices, increasing adults' access to education through distance learning, and using technology and adapting services for individuals with disabilities.
The request includes $6.560 million for the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL). NIFL fosters innovation and collaboration in order to build and strengthen national, regional, and State literacy infrastructures, and promotes consensus in the field on strategies to increase the resources for, access to, and quality of the adult literacy. The request will allow NIFL to continue its activities to promote awareness of literacy needs, and communicate effective practices through networks of practitioners.
Adults and youth who participated in programs supported by corrections funding programs are educationally disadvantaged and generally lack the skills to secure jobs upon release. The FY 2002 request includes $17 million for Grants to States for Incarcerated Youth Offenders, the same level as the 2001 appropriation. This program awards grants to State correctional education agencies to help with postsecondary education of incarcerated youth offenders, age 25 and under, within 5 years of release or parole. This program creates educational opportunities ranging from functional literacy through postsecondary degree and certificate programs. In addition, $5 million is requested to continue the Literacy Program for Prisoners, which funds grants to correctional agencies for life skills classes.
Taken together, these programs address the diverse needs of learners to meet the demands they encounter at work, home, and in everyday life. The demands of the 21st century economy, the pace of technological advance, and demographic changes in today's society require that all Americans have educational opportunity. All youth must be prepared for postsecondary education and careers. Adults of all ages require basic numeracy and literacy skills, and opportunities for further education. By building strong accountability systems and providing flexibility and choice at the State and local level, we believe these programs will continuously improve their effectiveness in preparing individuals for employment, further education, and their responsibilities as parents and citizens.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks. My colleagues and I would be happy to respond to any questions you may have.