Tech Thursday: Perkins Gets the Common Core Squeeze

Tech Thursdays

Tech Thursdays for me are an opportunity to share with you what I’ve uncovered about Common Core beyond high school. Those who have orchestrated Common Core have hidden post-secondary Common Core with names like “CTE” (Career Technical Education) or “Career Pathways” which have been embedded in the 2014 WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act). I’ve written extensively about these. If you are new to my blog, you’ll need to refer to my very first Tech Thursday post where I broke open the myth about no Common Core beyond high school (see: September 4th’s post “Common Core After High School: Reality Check”)

Notice "US Dept. of Education" is at the top of the graphic.
Notice “US Dept. of Education” is at the top of the graphic.

So for today’s “Tech Thursday” I’d like to take you a bit further into the fact I shared with you a few days ago about the Perkins Act funding being used to force more Common Core upon our students (see: Sunday’s Post “VP, Unions, Career Tech and Common Core”). For a quick review, here’s an excerpt from Sunday’s post about the Perkins Act,
“The Perkins Act was created back in 1984, since then it’s been updated a few times. However, the original intent was to increase the quality of education that was considered technical or, at the time, vocational. With the advent of Common Core via the Career Tech, Career Clusters, Career Pathways, it’s not longer ‘cool’ to use the word ‘vocation’, now it’s ‘career’. Last updated in 2006 here are the 3 parameters that MUST happen with the Act.:
“1. Replaces “vocational education” with “career and technical education”

2. Maintains the Tech Prep program as a separate entity with federal funding within the legislation
3. Maintains state administrative funding at 5 percents of a state’s allocation
The new law also requires the development of articulation agreements and strengthens local
accountability provisions. The Perkins Act provides almost $1.3 billion annually to career and technical education programs in all 50 states until 2016.’ Each state gets to decide how to split the funding between secondary schools and post-secondary schools.”

So, today’s in-depth look will find us delving into just HOW the Perkins Act funding is promoting CTE in our students’ lives.

First stop, CTE’s blog:

According to the Career Tech Education’s blog where I typed in ‘Perkins Act’ and got the following results (see:, we can see that there’s been a study conducted on how each of the states has been able to use the federal funds to have career technical classes and programs in our schools, both secondary (high school) and post-secondary (community colleges, technical schools or colleges, and proprietary schools or colleges (for profit schools). CTE’s blog tells us the study was prepared by the NCICTE (National Center for Innovation in Career Technical Education) and the NASDCTEc (National Association of State Directors for Career Technical Education Consortium) is the group which collected study data. As usual, with most studies, it was concluded that even MORE research needed to be conducted to measure student outcome based education. As you may of noticed above Perkins funding is to be split in each state between the secondary and post-secondary institutions. Each state’s method will be a bit different in HOW they divide the funding. To help us understand HOW, consider these facts:

State financing approaches broke down into three main categories: foundational funding only, funding for area CTE centers and categorical funding.

Foundational Funding Only – All states distribute basic state aid to finance secondary education programming using a variety of formulas. In this approach, local administrators decide how to distribute funds across instructional priorities, including CTE. Nine respondents indicated they rely exclusively on foundational funding. At community or technical colleges, 30 states reported distributing funds to postsecondary institutions through block grants and not distinguishing funding for CTE.

Funding for Area CTE Centers – Through this method, funds are dedicated to support programming at area CTE centers that deliver CTE services to part-time students. Centralizing CTE programs can be a cost-effective strategy. Seven states reported having separate state funding for these centers at the secondary level and sometimes use a categorical funding approach to distribute funds.

Categorical Funding – This approach dedicates funding to support career-related instructional services and typically targets state funding for the exclusive use of CTE programming. In fact, 37 states earmarked state funds for secondary CTE using one of the following formulas: student-based (21 states), cost-based (7 states) and/or unit-based (9 states). At the post-secondary level, seven states indicated providing categorical funding, while most opted to allocate funding through basic state aid.”

Perkins Act funding is also used in a PBF (Performance Based Funding) way. Which means depending on how the students perform, complete courses and gain credentials and/or have success finding jobs is to how the funding is used. If you read the entire blog entry, you’ll see most states, at this time, do not use the PBF method.

Second stop, The Study:

Named “State Strategies for Financing Career and Technical Education”, I must include the following to honor the public domain, “U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career,
Technical, and Adult Education, State Strategies for Financing Career and Technical Education. Washington, D.C., 2014.” Did you notice the Study didn’t have the NCICTE or NASDCTEc titles BUT did have the U.S. Dept. of Education? Let’s find out why.

The Study/Report was prepared FOR the US Dept. of Ed BY the NCICTE and the NASDCTEc.  NCICTE_CTE_Finance_Study

What Perkins Money actually covers:

According the the Introductory portion of the Study,  The Perkins Act (updated 2006), “Allocations at the secondary level are based on the number of
youths ages 5–17 who reside within a local educational agency’s (LEAs) boundaries and who live in poverty. Funds for institutions of higher education (IHEs) are distributed
proportionate to the number of students who receive Pell grants or aid from the Bureau of
Indian Affairs.”

Those 3 Different Methods of Funding:

As we saw above, there are 3 main methods to fund CTE using Perkins financial allocations. The data collected by the NASDCTEc shows for the K-12 funding:
1) Categorical use can be found in 3 ways, “Student-based formula (21 states)—Funds are distributed relative to the number of CTE students enrolled in an LEA. States typically use one of three approaches: (1) proportional allocations, in which LEAs or programs receive a
funding allocation relative to the number of students enrolled; (2) weighted
student funding, which provides supplemental funding for CTE students in
state basic aid formulas; and (3) differential weighting, which allocates funding
for CTE students based on the program type in which they participate or to
align with state instructional priorities.”
Unit-based formulas (7 states)—Allocations are based on a set of educational
inputs used to deliver CTE services, such as the number of instructors or
administrators employed by an LEA or the equipment used to deliver
Cost-based formulas (9 states)—LEAs are compensated for CTE services based
on their actual reported costs from the prior academic year. States may cap or
limit the rate at which eligible expenses are reimbursed, meaning that only a
portion of an LEA’s expenditures may be covered.

For Post-Secondary Funding, Categorical Funding is used in 2 different ways.
Student-based formulas (two states)—As in secondary education, states use this
approach to distribute funds based on the number of students enrolled in CTE
programs. Both states weight CTE student participation according to program
Unit-based formulas (three states)—Three states tie state funding to CTE
instructional units as a way to fund the differential costs of course delivery. An
instructional unit is defined as the ratio of CTE instructors to student credit
According to the Study, most states are not using the PBF yet, but knowing how the 21st Century Community Learning Centers are becoming more entrenched, I wouldn’t be surprised to see PBF Perkins funding occur. (PBF, from what I could tell based funding from a community perspective, not the LEA or Higher Learning Institute’s).

So how much money ARE we talking about?

The Study shares that “The federal government offers categorical funding to states through its Perkins IV legislation. Annual contributions, which totaled $1.1 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2013, have been at roughly 4–7 percent of total spending for CTE services. In addition to federal funds, all states provide funds to support the delivery of educational services at the secondary and post-secondary levels, some of which are earmarked for the provision of CTE instruction. Finally, many local CTE programs generate their own funds to support classroom instruction, which may be monetary contributions, gifts of equipment and supplies, or in-kind donations from business, industry, and labor representatives.” (In other words, Public Private Partnerships or P3s)

Enter, the Squeeze:

As with any federal funding, there is bound to be the squeeze; meaning the strings that are attached. Because the States have accepted CTE funding, they now have to comply with the following items:

At the K-12 level:
Funding must be used to promote certain CTE fields or programming.
Serving a larger area from one campus where all the state-of-the-art technology is housed.
Aligning the CTE goals with the state’s Workforce Training Agenda.

At the Post-Secondary level:

Block grants each State can use at their discretion.
Using competitive grants which support statewide CTE initiatives.
Usually, funding is based on student enrollment.


Why We Need to Look at PBF:

While not widely popular at the moment, anything ‘performance based’, especially tied to Common Core, Career Pathways, Career Tech Education, will be the string that ties us down the most. How? In the context of CTE, Common Core, Performance Based Funding has you basing education on benchmarks, standards, and/or outcomes. The Study refers to the ‘U.S. Department of Education’s Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education calls for establishing common performance metrics and providing incentives for high-performing programs as part of the Perkins IV re-authorization (U.S. Department of Education 2012).’ This will tie the States to seek funding based on how many students complete secondary CTE and are placed into post-secondary; how many attain jobs and/or remain employed.

Pay-as-You-Go CTE:

Also included in the Study was a series of questions the States had to answer about ‘market-driven’ models for education. “capitalizing on educational programs and social services that offer a positive return for society. Referred to by a variety of names, including “social investment bonds” and “social impact investing,” these financing vehicles draw upon funds contributed by private and philanthropic investors to offset the start-up and operating costs of innovative, research-backed programs proven to improve the economic outcomes of individuals and families (Callanan, Law, and Mendonca 2012; Social Finance 2012).” (in other words MORE P3s) Of course, used as evidence for success, a country other than the US is cited.

Final Thoughts:
Considering how the WIOA of 2014 (The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014) also has much rhetoric of CTE, Career Pathways and P3s, we would be best served by diving in, looking at this with a very fine tooth comb and getting word to our local school boards, state legislators. Common Core should NOT be around our communities’ necks like a noose. Career Tech Education, aka Adult Common Core should not be the vehicle that drives our States right into losing our students, our freedoms, or our quality of educational choices. Yet, if we sit back and allow this to transpire, that, my friends is exactly what we face.






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