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May 16 -- The Department of Education (Department) proposes priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria for the Perkins Innovation and Modernization Grant Program, Assistance Listing Number 84.051F. The Department may use the priorities, requirements, definitions, and selection criteria for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2023 and later years. We take this action to support the identification of strong and well-designed projects that will incorporate evidence-based and innovative strategies and activities to improve student success in secondary education, postsecondary education, and careers. We must receive your comments on or before June 15, 2023.

The purpose of the Perkins Innovation and Modernization Grant Program (PIM) is to identify, support, and independently evaluate evidence-based and innovative strategies and activities to improve and modernize career and technical education (CTE). The Department anticipates using the PIM authority beginning in FY 2023 to award competitive grants to support Career Connected High Schools (CCHS) that will transform public high schools by expanding existing and implementing new strategies and supports to help their students identify and navigate pathways to postsecondary education and career preparation, accrue college credit, pursue in-demand and high-value industry-recognized credentials, and gain direct experience in the workplace through work-based learning.
 
This notice contains five proposed priorities. We may apply one or more of these priorities for a PIM competition in FY 2023 or in subsequent years.

Proposed Priority 1—Career-Connected High Schools

The misalignment of the secondary and postsecondary education systems in the United States (U.S.), along with an inadequately funded workforce development system, contributes to inequities for young people to pursue postsecondary education and launch careers that support economic and social mobility in our nation. As a result, too many young people leave high school unprepared for postsecondary education or careers. An estimated 4.8 million youth ages 16 to 24 are disconnected, neither working nor in school, comprising more than one in 10 (12.6 percent) of U.S. youth in this age group. These young people are disproportionately from communities of color. Nearly one in four (23.4 percent) Native American teenagers and young adults are neither working nor in school, the highest rate of disconnection of the five major racial and ethnic groups for which data were collected, followed by Black teenagers and young adults, who have the second-highest rate of disconnection from school and work (19.6 percent), or nearly 1 million young people. Another 1.3 million disconnected youth are Hispanic, comprising 14.0 percent of Hispanic teenagers and young adults.

The road to and through postsecondary education or training is also particularly difficult to navigate for youth from low-income communities. For example, among students attending the nearly 9,000 high schools participating in the National Student Clearinghouse's StudentTracker for High Schools service during the 2020–21 school year, 46 percent of students who graduated from high-poverty high schools (where at least 75 percent of the student population was eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch) enrolled in postsecondary education immediately following high school graduation. In contrast, the immediate postsecondary education enrollment rate was 72 percent for students attending low-poverty high schools (where fewer than 25 percent of students were eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch). The difference in postsecondary degree completion rates between students attending high- and low-poverty high schools was even more stark: only 25 percent of graduates from high-poverty high schools earned a postsecondary degree within 6 years of finishing high school, compared to 61 percent of students from low-poverty high schools.

Addressing the difficulties young people from high-poverty communities experience as they try to access, navigate, and complete postsecondary education is a national priority because postsecondary educational attainment has become a passport to economic independence and success. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (Georgetown CEW) estimates that a postsecondary credential is now required to access 80 percent of what it describes as “good jobs”—that is, according to Georgetown CEW, jobs paying a minimum of $35,000 for workers between the ages of 25 and 44 and at least $45,000 for workers between the ages of 45 and 64. Moreover, many “good jobs” that Georgetown CEW identified as accessible to individuals with a high school credential also require some form of technical training that extends beyond what is often available in high school. Carpentry and solar photovoltaic installer jobs typically require formal on-the-job training, for example. Earning a high school diploma is an important achievement, but young people need further learning to succeed in our economy.

Increasing postsecondary educational attainment can strengthen and expand local economies by attracting new industry and taking advantage of new job opportunities like those created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Pub. L. 117–58), CHIPS and Science Act (Pub. L. 117–167), and the Inflation Reduction Act (Pub. L. 117–169), and can increase the wages of workers who do not have postsecondary credentials by increasing productivity. Eliminating equity gaps in postsecondary educational attainment will also promote inclusive national economic prosperity. For example, in an analysis prepared for the Postsecondary Value Commission, Georgetown CEW estimated that closing gaps in postsecondary educational attainment by income level, race, and ethnicity could increase the Gross Domestic Product of the U.S. by $542 billion annually.

To prepare all young people more equitably and effectively for further learning and economic advancement, our high schools require new solutions and tools to scale up strategies that have benefitted all students. Proposed Priority 1 identifies the following four pillars for transformed, career-connected high schools that, if implemented and integrated effectively and equitably, will better prepare all young people for postsecondary education and rewarding careers:

-- Participation in a comprehensive postsecondary education and career navigation system that supports career exploration and education planning, provides information and assistance in pursuing further learning after high school, and includes the development and regular updating of a personalized postsecondary education and career plan (as defined in this notice) throughout high school;
-- Acquisition of postsecondary credit through dual or concurrent enrollment programs (as defined in section 3 of Perkins V) to promote success in postsecondary coursework and give students a head start in earning a postsecondary credential;
-- Participation in work-based learning opportunities (as defined in section 3 of Perkins V) for which students receive wages or academic credit, or both; and
-- Attainment of an in-demand and high-value industry-recognized credential (as defined in this notice) so that every young person can earn a living wage or more after high school, be able to pursue further education, and thrive and live independently. . . .

Proposed Priority 2—Partnership Applications

Projects that seek to transform high schools and equip students with the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in further learning and the labor market are likely to be more cohesive if they are carried out through a partnership that includes an LEA, a community or technical college or another IHE, and, to ensure the project prepares students for careers in demand, employers. Other relevant community stakeholders, such as local workforce development boards, labor-management partnerships, youth-serving organizations, and nonprofit organizations, may also be engaged. For this reason, the Department proposes a priority for applications submitted by an eligible applicant that includes these types of partners in implementing successful projects.

Applicants would also be required to provide a preliminary memorandum of understanding (MOU) or partnership agreement among all partner entities identified at the time of the application, that describes the roles and responsibilities of each partner in carrying out the proposed project. Understanding that some decisions about implementation may take more time and additional partners, we propose maintaining flexibility in the partnership agreement. Separately in this notice, the Department proposes to establish a requirement that PIM partnership grantees submit a formal MOU that includes all members of the partnership 120 days after the grant is awarded. . . .
 
Proposed Priority 3—State and Regional Partnerships

To strengthen projects funded under PIM and to expand the reach of PIM funding, the Department is interested in proposed projects that would either include the participation of one or more State agencies or that would bring together multiple LEAs within a geographic region.

State agencies can play a powerful role in transforming public high schools and strengthening the alignment of secondary and postsecondary education to careers through both policymaking and the provision and use of State expertise, funding, and assets. The State higher education agency, for example, establishes minimum admissions criteria and policies to determine placement in credit-bearing coursework, while State educational agencies (SEAs) typically establish minimum high school graduation requirements. . . .
 
Proposed Priority 4—Serving Students from Families with Low Incomes

Perkins V instructs the Secretary to give priority to PIM projects that will predominantly serve students from low-income families. To encourage and support efforts to increase the number of innovative and high-quality programs available to students from families with low incomes, particularly in the Nation's high-poverty communities, we propose to operationalize this statutory priority by requiring an applicant to describe its plan to serve students from families with low incomes and provide evidence that a specific minimum percentage of students from families with low incomes will be served by the project over the course of the grant project period.

Proposed Priority 5—Rural Communities

Perkins V directs the Department to award no less than 25 percent of PIM grant funds to projects proposing to fund career and technical education (CTE) activities that serve: (1) LEAs with an urban-centric district locale code of 32, 33, 41, 42, or 43, as determined by the Secretary (“rural communities”); (2) IHEs that primarily serve one or more areas served by such an LEA; (3) a consortium of such LEAs or IHEs; (4) a partnership between such LEAs or IHEs and an educational service agency or a nonprofit organization; or (5) a partnership between such LEAs or IHEs and a State educational agency (SEA). The 25 percent funding requirement applies, however, only if the Department receives enough applications of sufficient quality. . . .

FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-10220

ED also invites public comment to OMB on its proposed Perkins Innovation and Modernization Grant Program (PIM) Application by June 15. ED submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202305-1830-001 Click on IC List for questionnaire, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments to OMB through this site.

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