Understanding Federal Aid for CTE: ESSA and Accountability

Jun 04, 2024
Federal Aid for CTE ESSA and Accountability

In our exploration of federal initiatives impacting Career and Technical Education (CTE), we've delved into the foundational roles of Perkins funding and the complementary nature of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

Now, it's crucial to focus on the broader accountability framework provided by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This act, enacted in 2015, redefines the federal role in education and introduces a comprehensive accountability system for K-12 schools. Its implications for CTE programs are significant and must be understood by all stakeholders.

ESSA: A Comprehensive Accountability Framework

Signed into law in 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the primary source of federal aid for K-12 education. ESSA requires state plans to develop a comprehensive school accountability system, which can now include workforce readiness measurements.

Under ESSA, states must develop and implement accountability plans that outline four required academic indicators and the newest inclusion of an indicator of school quality or student success (SQ/SS). States can choose from a menu of SQ/SS indicators, including chronic absenteeism rates, ninth-grade progression, school climate, and college and career readiness (CCR).

At least 31 states have CCR indicators that include CTE coursework or work-based learning. Measurements for CCR vary but commonly include access and completion of advanced coursework (e.g., calculus, Advanced Placement), ACT and SAT scores, and college enrollment following high school graduation.

Integration of ESSA Accountability with WIOA and Perkins

While WIOA and Perkins provide funding sources and strategic frameworks for CTE, ESSA's accountability measures serve as a crucial layer of oversight and evaluation. 

Here's how these three federal initiatives intersect and work together:

1. Alignment of Goals: ESSA's accountability goals, such as improving graduation rates and promoting college and career readiness, align with the objectives of WIOA and Perkins in creating a state-wide strategic vision for preparing an educated and skilled workforce.

2. Data-Driven Decision-Making: ESSA's emphasis on data collection and reporting enables stakeholders to better identify areas for improvement in student access, outcomes, and program quality to make data-driven decisions regarding resource allocation.

3. Continuous Improvement: State education departments and schools must engage in continuous improvement efforts to enhance the quality and relevance of CTE offerings by integrating accountability measures from ESSA with the strategic frameworks of WIOA and Perkins.

To learn more, check out Advance CTE’s accountability crosswalk of the three federal acts’ performance indicators.

The Role of Stakeholders in Ensuring Accountability

Stakeholders, including local education agencies educators, policymakers, employers, and community members, are crucial in ensuring accountability and driving positive outcomes in CTE programs. Key actions include:

  • Data Collection and Monitoring: Regularly collecting disaggregated data related to student performance and programs of study to identify and quantify gaps between learner groups.
  • Collaboration: Collaborating across sectors to effectively align goals, share data, and address workforce needs.

A Holistic Approach to CTE Accountability

While WIOA and Perkins federal funding provide essential resources and frameworks for CTE, ESSA's accountability measures serve as a critical layer of oversight, ensuring that workforce development programs meet rigorous standards and prepare students for success in their careers. 

By integrating these three federal initiatives and engaging stakeholders in collaborative efforts, we can build a robust accountability framework that fosters continuous improvement and equitable access to high-quality CTE opportunities for all students. Explore our federal aid for CTE series by learning more about Perkins V and WIOA in K-12 education.

Edmentum offers college and career-connected learning solutions that align to ESSA accountability goals and enable data-driven decision making. Our team's consultative approach can help your school or district improve their CTE program. Contact us for more information.

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