Among the many federal programs designed to improve the career prospects of students in the United States, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act of 2018 (Perkins V) stands out for its size, scope, and complexity. Perkins V provides nearly $1.3 billion per year to states, with a goal of preparing students for both postsecondary education and employment. A majority of the funds are allocated in support of career development instruction provided by secondary school districts and 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities. Students participating in career and technical education receive rigorous academic instruction and advanced technical training.
The federal legislation mandates that states report on their uses of Perkins grant funding and performance outcomes of students concentrating their studies in technical coursework.
In 2011, the Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) selected RTI to
- Develop and manage their web-based systems to monitor states’ performance
- Train and support grantees in the use of these systems
- Provide technical assistance to support states in improving the quality and uses of their accountability data.
Creating Digital Tools to Track and Improve Education Programs
Since we began managing this project, we have designed and built the Perkins Information Management System (PIMS) to help OCTAE administer Perkins grants and collect data. PIMS enables state administrators to report annual financial and performance accountability data. Federal staff use the system to monitor states’ uses of funding, track yearly performance, and maintain a variety of administrative data. We continue to refine PIMS and provide training to its users.
We’ve also collaborated with OCTAE to design a user-friendly and robust information dissemination platform, known as the Perkins Collaborative Resource Network (PCRN). PCRN provides the education community with access to news and information about Perkins and other federal career and technical education initiatives. It provides updates on federal career development initiatives, a calendar of upcoming events, guidance and program memoranda, and research findings and resources to assist states in improving the quality of their educational programming.
We also provide technical assistance to help states make the best use of their Perkins grants. We have consulted with territories, tribal colleges, and all 50 states and Washington, D.C., to help them identify innovative solutions to their data collection and reporting needs. We also host an annual meeting and webinars with state career and technical data administrators to share information on promising practices and promote cross-state collaboration.
Building Partnerships in Career and Technical Education
The National Perkins Reporting System project is part of a nationwide effort to improve educational and career opportunities for youth and adults. After more than two decades of work supporting federal career and technical education programs, we have developed extensive expertise and formed lasting partnerships that are leading to better results for students around the country.
As OCTAE and states implement Perkins V, we look forward to continuing our collaboration. We are prepared to adapt to both technological progress and changes in the policy environment. Our goal is to keep federal career and technical education programs at the cutting edge so that they continue to serve the changing needs of our nation’s students and employers.