|DATE:||April 25, 2002|
|TO:||State Directors of Vocational Education|
State Directors of Adult Education
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Vocational and Adult Education
|SUBJECT:||Guidance for Revisions in State Performance Levels For Vocational and Adult Education|
This memorandum describes criteria and procedures the Department of Education will use when considering state requests to revise agreed upon levels of performance. These levels are established under the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act (Perkins III) as well as the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA), title II of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).
Under Perkins III and AEFLA, the Department of Education must reach agreement with each state and outlying area on target levels of core performance measures for vocational and adult education programs. These include performance on measures of learning as well as on gaining or retaining employment and moving on to further postsecondary education or training.
Pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Departments of Education and Labor, the Departments intend to align their policies concerning these revisions while continuing to accommodate somewhat different legislative requirements of the three statutes. Section 136 (b)(3)(A)(vi) of title I of WIA permits each Governor to request revisions to the state agreed to levels of performance in the event that "unanticipated circumstances arise in a state resulting in a significant change in the factors" described in section 136(b)(3)(A)(iv)(II). These factors include the economic conditions in the state, characteristics of participants, and the services provided to participants. Perkins III (section 113 (b)(3)(A)(vii)) and AEFLA (section 212 (b)(3)(A)(iv)(II) and (vi)) have identical language on this subject, but it is slightly different from WIA Title I's. The Departments view the process of establishing and revising agreed upon levels of performance as a way to promote accountability and continuous improvement. Sustained by similar statutory language, this opportunity will be offered to all three programs eligible for incentive grants under section 503 of WIA.
Policy on Requesting Revisions
The eligible agency responsible for administering vocational and/or adult education may request a revision in one or more agreed upon performance levels at any time prior to the end of the program year for which the revised level(s) would apply. If the revision pertains to a subsequent year, it must be requested 60 days prior to the end of the current year. This deadline is designed to allow the Department an opportunity to review and approve new levels in time for implementation the following year.
The policy allows adjustment to agreed upon performance goals in order to account for two types of unanticipated circumstances:
- Changes in data methodologies for continuous improvement
These unanticipated conditions are tied to methodological changes in the way the state collects data. Examples include but are not limited to, state-mandated changes in data-gathering methodologies, or changes in measures of academic achievement or educational gain; or
- Contextual circumstances
Unanticipated changes in these conditions tie to contextual events that could not have been known and addressed by the state at the time the levels were agreed upon. Examples include, but are not limited to, significant shifts in population, economic changes such as spiraling unemployment rates, and natural disasters such as flooding that might close programs for significant periods.
Changes in category one are allowed only for future years. Changes in category two are allowed for current or future years.
Submitting Requests for Revised Levels of Performance
The Office of Vocational and Adult Education will review each request submitted by an eligible agency for a revision to one or more performance levels based on its own merits.
- The Request. Each state seeking a revision will develop and submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education.
- Review of the Request. The Office of Vocational and Adult Education will review the request and determine whether the state request appropriately documents and satisfies each of the following three conditions listed below:
- Condition 1. The request must delineate the unanticipated circumstance;
- Condition 2. The unanticipated circumstance, in turn, must impact one or more factors. There should be evidence to associate the unanticipated circumstance with an actual change in one or more of the factors referenced in section 113 (b)(3)(A)(vi) of Perkins III or section 212(b)(3)(A)(iv) of AEFLA; and
- Condition 3. The state variations from expected outcomes identified in the request must be linked to the stated significant changes in factors. Sufficient and appropriate documentation should explain and justify the proposed revised levels of performance.
- Researching Agreement. The revised levels of performance will be agreed upon between the OVAE staff and state staff to ensure that reasonable and appropriate levels are set. OVAE will indicate to the state if data or information is insufficient to justify the request. Both the OVAE and state staff will work together to ensure that the necessary information is included and considered when the request is processed.
- Conveying the Decision. OVAE staff will convey the results of the review to state staff within 30 days after receiving a request for current-year revisions and within 60 days after receiving a request for subsequent-year revisions. All approved revisions must be incorporated into the state plan governing vocational and/or adult education. Please note that these revisions are subject to the same procedures that the state has established for processing revisions in the state plan. The OVAE staff will maintain documentation supporting the decision. Approved revised levels of performance will be effective on the date agreement is reached between OVAE and eligible agency.
OVAE's Review Process
When determining whether sufficient information is available to document and satisfy the required conditions, OVAE will look for:
- A description of the nature of the problem or mitigating circumstance, including a description of when the unanticipated circumstance occurred and its duration or expected duration (Condition 1);
- The performance measure(s) and program year(s) affected by the request (Condition 2);
- Evidence of the change in the factors taken into account in the earlier negotiation(s), the forecasted factor values, if appropriate, and the estimated impact on the performance outcome(s) (Conditions 2 and 3);
- A description of the approach(s) used to determine revised levels of state negotiated performance, including methods used to forecast annual factor values, if appropriate (Condition 3); and
- The computations for the proposed revised performance level(s) included in the request (Condition 3).