State Perkins Accountability Congress Final Report
The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV) details a set of performance indicators for career and technical education (CTE) programs for which all states and local grantees are required to collect and report student and program data. The focus and specificity of these indicators have evolved with each successive reauthorization of the Perkins legislation.1 Changes to the accountability system in Perkins IV—including the addition of separate indicators for secondary and postsecondary education and the release of nonregulatory guidance by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE), U.S. Department of Education (Department)—have helped refine state measurement approaches and promote more consistent data collection. States now report annually on 13 core indicators of performance and disaggregate results by students’ gender, race/ethnicity, and special population status.
While Perkins IV has fine-tuned federal accountability expectations, it continues to offer states considerable flexibility in defining measures and data collection methodologies. States have responded by tailoring reporting to address their own, often unique program policies and reporting capacities. The resulting variability has hampered federal efforts to report nationally comparable data on the outcomes of CTE students and to assess the relative success of states in improving state and local program performance. The lack of accurate, reliable data that can be used to quantify the return on federal investment in CTE has raised concerns about the reauthorization of the legislation, particularly given recent cutbacks in federal appropriations. Although current authorizations have held Perkins IV funding constant, Congress drastically reduced funding in its FY 2011 Continuing Resolution, and within the Department, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has warned of the need for state educators to make a compelling, data-driven case to justify increased federal investment.