Republicans and Democrats in the House have passed bill H.R. 5587 and it is now on the way to the Senate for a vote. The claims of the bill are ambitious but how it will go into action is still a little unclear. Based on summaries of the law, the bill will:
Empowering State and Local Community Leaders
- Eases burdensome state requirements: The bill simplifies the requirements states have to follow when applying for federal funds. It also streamlines the application process and better aligns it with the process for submitting the state workforce development plan under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. This allows state leaders to focus more time and resources on preparing students for successful careers—not on duplicative or overly prescriptive federal requirements.
- Eases burdensome local requirements: Instead of requiring local education providers to submit their own lengthy plans, the bill allows providers to fill out a simple, easy-tocomplete local application. Recipients will also partner with local stakeholders to perform biennial reviews to help CTE programs meet the needs of local communities.
- Increases flexibility: The bill increases from 10 percent to 15 percent the amount of federal funds states can set aside to assist eligible students in rural areas or areas with a significant number of CTE students. It also gives states more flexibility to use federal funds to support CTE programs that are focused on unique and changing education and economic needs or state-based innovation.
Improving Alignment with In-Demand Jobs
- Supports innovative learning opportunities: The bill promotes work-based learning and evaluates CTE providers on their ability to effectively prepare students for the workforce. The bill also encourages state leaders to better integrate their career and technical education services with other state-led job training programs, helping to provide all Americans a more seamless and efficient workforce development system.
- Builds better partnerships: The bill encourages stronger engagement with employers by ensuring local business leaders are involved in the development of career and technical education and the performance goals set at the state and local levels. These reforms will help CTE services prove students the skills they need to compete for jobs that exist in their local communities now and in the future, rather than the jobs that existed in the past.
- Addresses state and local needs: The bill empowers state leaders with more flexibility to direct federal resources to CTE programs that provide students with skills to fill available jobs in their states and communities. Under the legislation, state leaders will be able to use federal funds to support programs focused on in-demand industries or occupations or on state-based innovation.
Increasing Transparency and Accountability
- Ensures secondary programs deliver results: At the secondary level, the bill streamlines the number of performance measures used to evaluate CTE programs and aligns these performance measures with those set by each state under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The bill also replaces the unreliable “technical skill proficiency” indicator with a state-determined indicator to help ensure taxpayer dollars are supporting CTE programs that prepare students to continue their education or start their careers. These reforms will help students graduate and receive an education that can lead to success in the workplace.
- Ensures postsecondary programs deliver results: At the postsecondary level, the bill streamlines the number of performance measures and aligns these with the performance measures in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. These reforms will help students graduate prepared to further their education or compete for good-paying jobs.
- Encourages public input: Current law requires states to negotiate their targeted levels of performance with the secretary of education. Under the legislation, states will set performance goals through an open process that includes input from local education leaders, parents and students, workforce development boards, community and business representatives, and others.
- Protects taxpayers: Under the legislation, states will include their targeted levels of performance in the state plan, as well as report and annually publish the results on how they perform. This will provide students, taxpayers, and state and local leaders the information necessary to hold CTE programs accountable for results.
Ensuring a Limited Federal Role
- Reduces the secretary’s authority: The bill repeals the requirement that states must negotiate their targeted levels of performance with the secretary of education.
- Limits federal intervention: The bill prevents the secretary of education from withholding funds from a state that does not meet certain performance targets. Instead, it empowers state leaders to develop an improvement plan that works best for the needs and circumstances in their states. At the local level, improvement plans will be developed in consultation with local stakeholders and overseen by state leaders, not federal bureaucrats.
- Prevents political favoritism: The bill requires the federal plan for research, development, dissemination, and evaluation to be carried out by an independent entity, rather than the secretary of education. The bill also requires that future demonstration projects focus on enhancing performance and student success, restricting the secretary’s ability to pick winners and losers based on politics.