Improving Performance Measures and Standards for Workforce Education

Publication May 1995

The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act of 1990 (Perkins II) has guided federal vocational education policy for the past five years. One of the most significant components of Perkins II was its emphasis on using systematic outcome data as a program monitoring and improvement tool. A recent NCRVE study of the effects of Perkins II, Improving Perkins II Performance Measures and Standards: Lessons Learned from Early Implementers in Four States (Stecher et al., 1994), found that the performance measures and standards provisions designed to promote program improvement were not achieving their full potential; it identified shortcomings and recommended actions that could be taken to improve the act.

This report examines the implications of that research for enhancing accountability in future federal workforce preparation legislation. It also illustrates specifically how the language of Perkins II could be changed to carry out the recommendations of the earlier study.

The following four features were identified as lacking in Perkins II but were found to be important for an outcome-based system to promote effective program improvement:

  1. Coordinate separate components into a more integrated system for planning, implementing, monitoring, and improving vocational education and training.
  2. Increase the emphasis on the use of the system of performance measures and standards as a program improvement tool.
  3. Clarify the requirements for measures and standards and improve their technical quality.
  4. Increase the amount of technical assistance provided by state and federal agencies to support change at the local and state levels.

Specific examples are given of changes in the language of Perkins II to incorporate these principles.

Stecher, B. M., Hanser, L. M., Rahn, M. L., Levesque, K., Klein, S. G., & Emanual, D. (1995, May). Improving performance measures and standards for workforce education. Berkeley, CA: National Center for Research in Vocational Education.

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