Developing California's Plan for Perkins III


Development of the State's plan for the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998 (Perkins III) got underway in August when members of the Field Review Committee met in Sacramento for an orientation to key issues. The committee included six faculty members representing the Academic Senate: Jim Casteau, Larry Dutto, Loretta Hernandez, Ellen Ligons, Diana Paque, and Dennis Smith. Acting as project monitor is the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), under the co-direction of former California Community College Chancellor Gerald Hayward. Several distinguished speakers provided an overview of important provisions of Perkins III and suggested essential principles to include in the State's plan for its implementation.

Chancellor Thomas Nussbaum was on hand to welcome participants and highlight the value of the community college's role in career education. Former Chancellor Hayward followed by stressing the importance of serving the best interests of students who expect us to provide pathways to a desirable career. He indicated that another goal is to maximize our use of federal dollars according to Perkins III criteria.

David Stern, Director of the National Center for Research in Vocational Education (NCRVE), at UC Berkeley, stated the importance of keeping career options of our students open - both during and after high school. Perkins III contains provisions designed to accomplish this objective including criteria that prescribe outcome-based funding for accountability; articulation between K-12 and post-secondary institutions; and integration among developmental, occupational, and general education programs. Stern identified other criteria in the areas of external integration with the regional employers' community and internal integration of academic and career counseling.

W. Norton Grubb, also from UC Berkeley's NCRVE, focused on improving post-secondary occupational education through integration of academic, developmental, and occupational education - three areas that in many institutions remain separate from one another.

Grubb shared with the committee his five principles for successful occupational education programs: (1) having a sense of the local labor market, (2) using appropriate curriculum and pedagogy, (3) providing resources and destinations for students, (4) providing ancillary services for students, such as child care, tutoring, and learning resource centers, and (5) creating an institutional self awareness for continuous quality improvement.

Finally, Gary Hoachlander, President of MPR Associates and author of Toward a New Framework of Industrial Programs for Vocational Education, focused on outcome-based funding components of Perkins III. He discussed the need for building local capacity for using data, not just reporting it, and the need to link accountability systems to program improvement in curriculum, instruction, and student services.

The new law has the look and feel of an expanded and more sophisticated federal version of the California Community Colleges' Partnership for Excellence fund. States and eligible recipients will begin using 1999-2000 baseline data to establish "performance targets" and will thereafter receive "rewards and sanctions" based on outcomes relative to those targets.

Perkins III and the state's implementation plan will have a significant effect on funding for all programs in community colleges for years to come. You can learn how this act will affect your college by attending the fall session breakouts designed to give you more detailed information.