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ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

ACTE Weighs in on Department of ED’s Four-Year Plan

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October 10, 2013

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ACTE Weighs in on Department of ED’s Four-Year Plan

ACTE recently submitted comments on the U.S.Department of Education’s draft Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FY) 2014-2018. Every four years the department develops a set of goals and strategic objectives to guide its future budget and policy priorities. The goals outlined in the plan include improving student access at all levels of education, increasing equity, developing the department’s own organizational capacities, promoting college- and career-ready standards and assessments, and improving high school graduation and postsecondary completion rates. Thought the department is currently closed due to the federal government shutdown, we are still working to make sure that there is a strong focus on CTE in future education policy priorities.

As part of the goal to expand access to postsecondary education and workforce training, we recommend that the department include, as part of Fiscal Year 2015-2018 budget requests to Congress, a strong investment in the Perkins state grant program. The department should also continue to promote a balanced approach to reverse sequestration. The equitable distribution of federal funds is key to ensuring access to a postsecondary education for youth and adult students. We strongly recommend that the department promote policies that maintain Perkins as a formula-funded program and abandon any proposals to make those funds competitive.

The department’s strategic plan also focuses on increasing access to career pathways in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Supporting greater academic and CTE integration would help to show students the direct applicability of STEM concepts to real-world situations. The department should continue to look to CTE-based strategies, including experiential learning, career academies, programs of study and career exploration, in developing STEM education policies.

CTE can also play a greater role within the department’s goals for improving secondary education. We recommend that the department promote accountability systems that will better determine overall student preparedness, particularly related to technical and employability skills. Additionally, the department’s strategic objectives on school turnaround should include high school improvement models that integrate CTE and academic learning. You can read all of our recommendations here.

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