Perkins Funding is a staple of financial support for career and technical education (CTE).
Perkins V, officially titled The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, presents the first major increase to that funding since 2006.
Effective July 1, 2019, this much-needed overhaul of funding starts at the national level and trickles down to states based on a number of different factors.
In effect, that means Perkins V works the same way as any other Perkins funding bill.
So what makes Perkins V different? It breaks down to five big factors:
Local / community focus
Guarantees against funding cuts
Increased “allowable reserve fund” for states
Strictly defined terminology
Let’s start with the most important part of Perkins funding — the amount!
1. Perkins V Funding Amount
Overall, Perkins V is estimated to disburse $1.193 billion in funding grants to the United States and outlying territories in 2019.
(Some estimates are as high as $1.262 billion.)
The US Department of Education has allocated the amounts to allot in 2019. While we won’t go through every single state, we can touch on a few major takeaways from the funding portion of Perkins V.
The Big Grant “Winners” (Gross Funding)
Five states clearly pull ahead of the pack when it comes to getting the most cash from Perkins funding.
New York: $56,898,437
The Biggest Increases (Grant Increase Amount)
While every state got more money this time around, four of those five same states also saw the biggest gross increase in their funding.
New York: +$3,142,900
The Biggest Percentage Increases
Finally, six states / territories saw increases in their funding percentages.
Virgin Islands: +60.7%
District of Columbia: +7.3%
North Dakota: +7.3%
What Does This All Mean?
In a nutshell, the federal government is doubling down on CTE because it’s shown such promising results for students and the economy.
While previous generations were told that going to college meant they’d be successful in life, many students have discovered that CTE offers an affordable, hands-on alternative that’s grounded in skills, as opposed to theory.
As a result, “non-traditional” learners have flocked to CTE. Even students who thrive in traditional academic environments still further their success when they complete CTE courses.
This has led to a rise in demand for CTE, especially since skills-based labor is a fine way to earn a living without the overriding fear of student debt.
Most importantly, CTE has empowered local communities to focus on their individual economies, ensuring students can successfully grow up in the same town where they eventually raise families of their own.
2. Perkins V Local / Community Focus
One of the major goals of Perkins V is to get funding out to local communities and allow them to use their discretion when it comes to spending.
The reasoning behind this is simple: Every locality experiences different challenges and diverse people, meaning they also have different economies.
Different economies mean different demands for different skills, and that concept echoes all the way down to local schools.
As a result, Perkins V allows localities to spend funds on students as young as fifth grade.
Previously, most Perkins funding went to high schools. While this probably won’t change tremendously over the next year or so, it’s a promising thought that elementary students may be able to learn hands-on skills before they’re even 13.
Beyond that, Perkins V creates a process called the local needs assessment to evaluate where school leaders can best spend their funding.
This assessment is entirely based on hard data, so it completely removes the opinions and politics that tend to hinder the grant spending process.
In addition, the local needs assessment must be revised once every two years, at minimum.
That means the data in the assessment’s report will always be up to date and relevant, ensuring administrators can make the most informed decisions possible.
Finally — and most importantly — Perkins V forces states to spend 85% of all of their allocated funds on individual communities, allowing the state to reserve up to 15% of their total grant.
(We’ll talk more on that later).
This single tenet has the potential for enormous results as local communities expand their education systems to be more inclusive, hands-on, and results-oriented.
Best of all, there’s a firm guarantee that those funds can only increase in future versions of the Perkins Act.
3. Perkins V Guarantee against Funding Cuts
One of the most interesting parts about Perkins V is its guarantee against state-level funding cuts.
Essentially, no state or territory can receive less funding in future iterations of the Perkins grant than it got in Perkins V.
The only exception to this is if the overall Perkins budget is slashed, which means states would lose funding accordingly.
In part, the DoE supports CTE so much because of student participation. The number of CTE concentrators — students who are actively enrolled in a CTE program and earned multiple credits from CTE courses — has steadily increased year after year.
The CTE health science program — by far the most popular career cluster in the country — had nearly 1 million CTE concentrators in secondary and post-secondary institutions.
The numbers become even more substantial when you look at CTE participants, which are defined as students who have taken at least one credit of a CTE course.
With just under 12 million CTE participants in secondary and post-secondary institutions, it’s clear that CTE is in a prime position to grow.
As a result, you can bet that the federal DoE will continue supporting it — and probably increase their support — over the next decade.
4. Perkins V “Allowable Reserve Fund” for States
Along with the increase in total funding, Perkins V increases the state-level allowable reserve fund to 15%. Previously, this limit was set to 10%.
That means when each state gets its funding from the DoE, state officials can opt to hold onto 15% of it for professional development and other opportunities.
(We’ll define what constitutes “professional development” in the next section.)
In Perkins IV, this reserve fund was used to accommodate unforeseen needs in underserved areas, particularly rural communities where it was difficult to access educational resources.
That way, the state could work with those populations to ensure they received similar learning opportunities as students in other areas.
This idea ties in nicely with the second point in this list. Perkins V places an enormous emphasis on local communities, and the state reserve fund can help with that.
It also gives state legislators the chance to create professional development opportunities for teachers throughout the state.
After all, teaching teachers is another way to give students the quality education to which they’re entitled.
5. Perkins V Strictly-Defined Terminology
As of February 28, 2019, Perkins V Sec. 3 deals exclusively with definitions of different terms.
In previous editions of Perkins funding, some of these terms were loosely defined to encompass the variables that the DoE could encounter at the state or local levels.
Now, these terms are strict.
Here are the eight that teachers should know:
Administration: Those individuals and organizations responsible for implementation, empowerment, and supervision of CTE programs
CTE Concentrator: A secondary level student who completes at least two courses in a single CTE program; a post-secondary level student who completes 12 credits in a CTE program
CTE Participant: A student at any level who completes “not less than one course” in a CTE program
Non-Traditional Fields: Any occupation in which individuals from one gender comprise less than 25% of the individuals employed in that area of work; notably computer science and technology
Professional Development: An integral part of providing education, knowledge, and skills necessary to empower students to succeed in CTE while meeting state academic standards; must be sustained (not standalone), intensive, collaborative, data-driven, and classroom-focused
Program of Study: A coordinated and non-duplicative sequence of academic and technical content that adheres to state standards; addresses academic knowledge and technical skills; progresses in specificity; includes multiple entry / exit points; and culminates with the acquisition of a recognized post-secondary credential
Support Services: Initiatives related to curriculum, equipment, classroom, or personnel modification
Work Based Learning: Sustained interactions with industry or community professionals in real professional settings or simulated environments in an educational institution to “foster in-depth, first-hand engagement with tasks required in a given career field”