Congress Renewed the Perkins Act: What Does it Mean for Charter Schools?

lead image

University Prep Charter High School students working in technical fields.

On August 1, President Trump signed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which renews the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (also known as the Perkins CTE Act or H.R. 2353). The bill—passed with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate—authorizes more than $1 billion for states to use towards secondary and post-secondary training.

Under the current Perkins Act, the great majority of funds flow by formula from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to the states and then from the states to secondary and postsecondary entities under two separate formulas (one for secondary funds and one for postsecondary). Charter schools that are their own local educational agency have been, and will continue to be, eligible to receive funds under the formula for secondary schools. States make the decision about how much of the formula money to allocate to secondary vs. postsecondary entities. The new law makes minor changes to state allocation requirements, none that significantly impact charter schools. Charter schools and authorizers are required to be consulted in the development of state plans.

The following are a few changes that are of interest to charter schools:

Work Based Learning
The new law includes a new definition of “career and technical education” that elevates work-based learning by including it in the definition.

State Leadership Activities
States can reserve ten percent of their funds to make State Leadership Activities grants. Current law specifies some nine mandatory uses of the State leadership funds, along with some 17 additional permissible uses. The reauthorization increases flexibility by reducing mandatory uses to four and expanding the permissible uses to 30. Required uses of funds are the following:

  1. Support for preparation in nontraditional fields and other programs for special populations;
  2. Support for individuals in State institutions;
  3. Educator recruitment, preparation, and training; and
  4. Technical assistance.

Rural set aside                                                                                                                                                                              Current law permits a state to use up to 10 percent of its allocation for local recipients to make grants for CTE activities in rural areas and areas with high numbers or percentages of CTE students. The reauthorization increases this to 15 percent and provides that these funds may go to geographic areas with disparities or gaps in CTE performance, in addition to the types of areas currently authorized. In addition, under the new law, the reserved funds must now be used to promote innovation in CTE or to promote the development of a Program of Study or career pathways aligned with high-need, high-wage, or in-demand occupations and industries

Innovation Grants                                                                                                                                                                        Within the authorization for National Activities (and using up to 20 percent of the appropriation for those activities, about $1.5 million a year), the reauthorization authorizes national competitive grants for CTE innovation and modernization, including pay for success initiatives. These grants would go to entities that are eligible for local allocations (including charter school LEAs) under the state formula grants and to consortia of various entities. Each entity receiving an innovation grant would be required to provide a 50 percent match

Over the coming months, ED will likely release information with more details on requirements. The National Alliance is planning to host a webinar in early fall to provide an overview of changes to the law and how schools can engage in the planning process at the state level.

As with any change in federal law it will take some time for full implementation to get under way. The provisions of the new law become effective on July 1, 2019. The first year of implementation will be considered a transition year and states will be able to submit a transition plan to cover requirements for the July 2019 - June 2020 program year. Four-year plans will likely be due in the spring of 2020 and will cover program years from July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2024.

Christy Wolfe is a Senior Policy Advisor for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Interested in learning more? Find out more about our federal policy work

Add new comment