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Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

Public Law No: 115-224 (07/31/2018)

Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act

This bill reauthorizes through FY2024 the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006.


STEM INDUSTRY SCHOOL PARTNERSHIP (SISP) is a contemporary and proven education model that, in partnership with industry, is inspiring students to study STEM and prepare for their futures. It is a dynamic program that is actively growing students’ job readiness skills and contributing to the international competitiveness of regional NSW.

(Sec. 7) The bill amends the Act to:

  • revise and introduce definitions, including common definitions for terms already defined in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act; and
  • divide career and technical education (CTE) students into CTE concentrators and CTE participants.

The term “CTE concentrators” means:

  • at the secondary school level, a student served by an eligible recipient specified in this bill, who has completed at least two courses in a single CTE program or program of study; or
  • at the postsecondary level, such an enrolled student who has earned at least 12 credits within a CTE program or program of study, or completed such a program if it encompasses fewer than 12 credits or the equivalent in total.

The term “CTE participant” means an individual who completes at least one course in an eligible recipient’s CTE program or program of study.

(Sec. 9) The federal government may not condition grant funding on the adoption of specific curricula or content, including Common Core State Standards or mandate the use of specific curricula or content through such grants.

The Department of Education (ED) must notify Congress and wait for its comments before issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking related to the Act in the Federal Register.


Part A–Allotment and Allocation

(Sec. 110) This bill makes the following revisions to requirements for reservations and state allotment and within-state funding allocations:

  • revises the state allotment formula used to determine a state’s minimum allotment for fiscal years when there are additional unreserved appropriated amounts;
  • for these fiscal years, ED shall allocate to a state the same amount received for FY2018;
  • states are allowed to reserve up to 15% (currently, 10%) of their within-state allocations for current uses;
  • states may reserve 2% (currently, 1%) of their allocations for leadership activities that serve individuals in state institutions (i.e., state correctional institutions, juvenile justice facilities, and educational institutions that serve individuals with disabilities); and
  • states must reserve funds for recruitment of special populations (e.g., individuals from economically disadvantaged families) to enroll in CTE programs.

The bill repeals provisions that prohibit a state from receiving an allotment for a fiscal year that is less than its allotment received for FY1998.

The use of such reserve funds are revised:

  • to include areas with high percentages of CTE concentrators or CTE participants, areas with high numbers of either of them, and areas with certain disparities or gaps in performance;
  • in order to foster innovation through the identification and promotion of promising and proven CTE programs, practices, and strategies, which may include programs, practices, and strategies that prepare individuals for nontraditional fields, or promote the development, implementation, and adoption of programs of study or career pathways aligned with state-identified high-skilled, high-wage, or in-demand occupation or industries.

(Sec. 112) The bill also revises requirements for core indicators of performance, including state determined levels of performance, to differentiate those for CTE concentrators who graduate from high school and for CTE concentrators at the postsecondary level.

ED may assist an eligible agency in establishing such state determined levels of performance only at the agency’s request.

(Sec. 113) ED shall (currently, may) carry out research, development, dissemination, evaluation, capacity building, and technical assistance for CTE programs. The bill eliminates ED assessment requirements of CTE programs.

The Institute for Education Sciences shall act for ED on such evaluation and development of ED’s single plan to implement certain activities regarding CTE programs.

ED shall appoint an independent advisory panel to advise on the evaluation of CTE programs. The bill revises requirements for the contents of an evaluation.

ED may award competitive grants to a consortium of one or more institutions of higher education, one or more private nonprofit organizations, or one or more agencies. The consortium shall include local educational agencies and area CTE schools that provide education at the secondary level, and Indian tribes, tribal organizations, or tribal education agencies that operate schools or may be present in the state.

The grants shall be used for certain activities, including:

  • evidence-based research and evaluation to develop, improve, and identify the most successful methods to eliminate inequities in access to, and in opportunities for, learning, skill development, or effective teaching in CTE programs;
  • research on, and evaluation of, the impact of changes made by this bill, including state-by-state comparisons of certain information;
  • evidence-based research and analyses that provide longitudinal information with respect to CTE education programs and programs of study and student achievement; and
  • the implementation of, evaluation of, or evidence-based research of, innovative methods that support high-quality implementation of CTE programs and CTE related programs of study and student achievement.

In addition, ED may award grants for up to three years to eligible entities, institutions, or recipients to identify, support, and rigorously evaluate evidence-based and innovative strategies and activities to improve and modernize CTE. Such grants may be used to align workforce skills with labor market needs as part of the state plan and local application under the Act and requirements of this bill.

Grant priority shall be given to eligible entities, eligible institutions, or eligible recipients that predominantly serve low-income students.

(Sec. 114) The bill revises specified funding-related provisions regarding Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Republic of Palau.

(Sec. 115) The bill sets forth a special rule for the use of grant funds made available to Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and Alaska entities. Such funds may not be used to provide preparatory, refresher, and remedial education services designed to enable students to achieve success in CTE programs or programs of study.

(Sec. 116) The bill reauthorizes through FY2024 grants for tribally controlled postsecondary CTE institutions and repeals the authorization for assistance for certain occupational and information activities.

Part B–State Provisions

(Sec. 121) State plans shall be for four years instead of six years.

The bill revises requirements for:

  • such plans, as well as state program improvement plans and state leadership activities;
  • local applications for CTE programs, including a comprehensive CTE needs assessment, and local uses of funds; and
  • state maintenance of efforts, including administrative penalties for failure to meet maintenance requirements.

The bill permits a state, in order to receive its full fiscal year CTE funding allotment, to: (1) continue to use its existing fiscal effort per student or aggregate expenditure in determining qualifying expenditure levels, or (2) establish a new level of fiscal effort per student or aggregate expenditure.

Part C–Local Provisions

(Sec. 131) The bill revises requirements for local eligible recipients to receive funding for CTE programs, including: (1) submitting an application instead of an improvement plan to the eligible agency, (2) conducting a special comprehensive CTE needs assessment, and (3) the use of such funds.


(Sec. 201) The bill eliminates funding for tech prep program activities.

In order for a state to receive its full allotment of funds for any fiscal year, ED must find that the state’s fiscal effort per student or its aggregate expenditures for CTE for the preceding fiscal year was at least the fiscal year per student or its aggregate expenditures for the second preceding fiscal year.

A state may:

  • continue to use its fiscal effort per student or aggregate expenditures for CTE that was in effect before enactment of this bill, or
  • establish a new level of such effort or expenditures that is at least 95% of the effort or expenditure for CTE for the preceding fiscal year.

ED shall reduce the amount of a state’s allotment of funds for any fiscal year in the exact portion by which the state fails to meet such requirement by falling below its fiscal effort per student or aggregate expenditures for one or more of the five immediately preceding fiscal years.

No funds made available under this bill may be used to:

  • require any secondary school student to choose or pursue a specific career pathway or program of study; or
  • provide CTE programs or programs of study to students before the middle grades (currently, seventh grade).

Equipment and facilities purchased with such funds may be used by the students.

The bill authorizes an eligible recipient to use funding for CTE program and activities, including programs of study, to allow participation in such programs and activities by secondary school students attending nonprofit private schools located in areas served by the eligible recipient. (Currently, the students must reside in such area.)

(Sec. 219) The Government Accountability Office shall evaluate:

  • the strategies, components, policies, and practices used successfully by eligible agencies or eligible recipients receiving funding to assist all students in pursuing and completing programs of study aligned to high-skill, high-wage occupations, as well as any special population or specific subgroup of students that is underrepresented; and
  • any challenges associated with replication of such strategies, components, policies, and practices.


(Sec. 301) The Wagner-Peyser Act is amended to revise the duties of a state agency receiving federal assistance for participation in the nationwide employment statistics system of workforce and labor market information.

(Sec. 302) The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 is amended to require a state that receives funds under this bill to include in its annual report card regarding the use of such funds the number and percentage of students meeting state determined levels of performance for core indicators.

Local educational agencies may not use grants received under this bill for tech prep activities.

(Sec. 303) The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is amended to replace “school dropouts” with “out-of-school youth” with respect to certain career and training services provided by eligible providers through one-stop delivery systems. Such systems shall include performance information and program cost information on eligible providers of CTE activities available to out-of-school youth.

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