Implementation of the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act and the Perkins Act of 1998

Date: November 27, 1998
To: State Directors of Adult Education
State Directors of Vocational Education
From: Patricia W. McNeil
Subject: Implementation of the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act and the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998

The recently-enacted Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) and the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998 (Perkins III) offer exciting opportunities to improve the quality of adult and vocational education as we enter the 21st century. We are proud to be a partner with you in this important endeavor.

Implementing these ambitious laws, however, poses some daunting challenges as well, particularly given the narrow time frame we have for implementation. The Department of Education intends to work closely with you over the next several months to provide the flexibility, guidance, and technical assistance that you need in order to master these challenges and maximize the opportunities created by the new legislation.

The purpose of this memorandum is to describe our overall implementation strategy and to outline the types of guidance and other information you can expect to receive from the Department in the coming months.

The Department's approach to the implementation of AEFLA and Perkins III will be guided by four key principles:

  • Flexibility We will implement both laws in a manner which maximizes State and local flexibility. Regulations will be kept to a minimum.

  • Collaboration We will work collaboratively with the Department of Labor, the Rehabilitation Services Administration, and other offices within the Department of Education to promote the development of quality education and workforce systems and alignment with education reform efforts.

  • Timeliness We will respond to your questions, concerns, and other information needs as expeditiously as possible.

  • Customer Service Our decisions will reflect the needs and concerns of our customers. We will look to you and other stakeholders to help us not only identify issues that require guidance, clarification, or technical assistance, but to collaborate with us in devising the best and most appropriate means of addressing them.

Using Technology to Facilitate Communication and Information-Sharing

Throughout the implementation process, we will be taking full advantage of the potential new technology offers to improve and enhance communication with you and other stakeholders:

  • In response to your suggestions, we have created two listservs for the State Directors of Adult Education and State Directors of Vocational Education. The purpose of the listservs is to facilitate communication and the exchange of ideas among State Directors, as well as with OVAE staff. They are intended to be a resource for you as you develop State plans and implement the two laws, providing you with a swift and simple way to consult with your counterparts in other States.

  • We have created two dedicated e-mail addresses that are reserved exclusively for comments and questions regarding the implementation of AEFLA and Perkins III. Our goal is to respond to all questions as quickly as possible. Once finalized, our responses to these questions will be shared with you through the listservs, as well as made available on the OVAE website.

  • We are expanding the OVAE website to include a wide range of information related to implementation, including detailed side-by-sides of the legislation and program and policy memoranda. Information concerning the implementation of AEFLA can be found at Information about Perkins III can be found at

  • We will be encouraging States to submit their State plans electronically to the Department.

State Plan Guidance for FY 99

To inform your planning, this month we will be providing you with guidance and information regarding a number of issues related to the development and submission of State plans for both programs. This includes:

  • A description of the different options that we are making available to you for the submission of State plans for fiscal year 1999. During our discussions with you this fall during the DVTE regional meetings and the DAEL meeting for State Directors of Adult Education in Washington, many of you emphasized the difficult and time-consuming nature of the process of developing new State plans. Your concerns guided the design of the FY 99 State plan options.

  • Estimates of the State formula allocations for the two programs for FY 99.

  • Policy guidance concerning the use of carryover funds under the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Act and the Adult Education Act, as Amended.

By mid-December, we expect to provide you with more detailed guidance related to the development and submission of State plans for the two programs. If there are specific issues that you believe should be addressed or clarified in this guidance, I encourage you to bring them to the attention of program staff as soon as possible.

Coordination with the Department of Labor and the Rehabilitation Services Administration

Both the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and Perkins III emphasize the value and importance of interagency collaboration and coordination at the Federal, State, and local levels. OVAE staff have been meeting on a regular basis with our counterparts in the Employment and Training Administration of the Department of Labor and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to coordinate our implementation of WIA and Perkins III. We strongly encourage comparable interagency consultation and coordination at the State level as well.

A central focus of our work has been the development of joint policy guidance to address a number of cross-cutting issues related to the implementation of all of the programs authorized under WIA and Perkins III. The first product of these efforts will be joint guidance regarding corresponding provisions in WIA and Perkins III that address the relationship between these two laws and the School-to-Work Opportunities Act. We will provide additional joint guidance on the implementation of the one-stop delivery system, incentive grant, and unified plan provisions of WIA.


The performance accountability systems established in AEFLA and Perkins III are among the most important programmatic reforms made by the two laws. They are among the most challenging to implement as well.

We believe that collaboration with you and other stakeholders is critical to the successful implementation of these provisions. We cannot develop workable and useful performance measurement systems without your active involvement. We know that a fully developed system of local, State and national outcome measures will only evolve over time with careful attention to continuous improvement.

During the first week of December, the Division of Adult Education and Literacy will be convening a meeting of key stakeholders to solicit advice and recommendations regarding the implementation of the AEFLA accountability provisions, including proposed definitions for the core indicators of performance. Drawing on the ideas and recommendations generated during this forum and through other means, in early January 1999 we will develop and disseminate draft proposed definitions that will be shared with you and other stakeholders for comment.

The Division of Vocational-Technical Education will use several forums to address the implementation of the accountability provisions of the Act, including discussions at the State Directors and AVA meetings in December, followed by workshops and regional meetings in 1999. States will receive guidance and technical assistance addressing both the development of data systems and the core indicators of performance in January 1999.


At this time, we do not foresee the need to issue extensive regulations for either AEFLA or Perkins III. Should we determine that any new regulations are necessary, proposed rules will be published by the end of January.

We look forward to continuing to work with you on the implementation of AEFLA and Perkins III over the next several months. As always, please do not hesitate to contact us when we may be of assistance to you.

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Last Modified: 09/15/2004