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Legislative Update: AMERICA Works, 21st Century Careers, Every Student Counts, Financial Literacy, Middle Schools

Amid all of the budget action over the last few weeks, Congress has also introduced a number of bills that may be of interest.

AMERICA Works Act

Rep. Joe Donnelly (IN) introduced H.R. 1325, the AMERICA Works Act, which would require that certain Federal job training and career education programs give a priority to programs that provide an recognized and nationally portable credential. This bill is similar to the one introduced by Sen. Kay Hagan (NC) last session. The bill would amend Perkins such that state plans would describe how the eligible agency would give priority to programs of study that lead to a skills credential that is in high demand in the area served and listed in the registry described in the AMERICA Works Act.

Providing Innovation to 21st Century Careers Act

Sen. Patty Murray (WA) introduced S. 830, the Providing Innovation to 21st Century Careers Act, to establish partnerships to create or enhance educational and skills development pathways to 21st century careers. The bill would fund $912 million in competitive grants to be used by state and regional partnerships to help students graduate high school and enter postsecondary education or a skilled career. State and regional partnerships would include representatives from secondary, postsecondary, business, labor, workforce, and economic development organizations. These partnerships would develop career pathways for high school students that include counseling, mentoring, work-based experiences, and support to obtain degrees, apprenticeships, and other postsecondary credentials.

Every Student Counts Act

Sen. Tom Harkin (IA) introduced S.767, the Every Student Counts Act . The goal of the bill is to improve the calculation of, reporting of, and accountability for high school graduation rates. The bill would also give credit to schools, districts and states for graduating students in more than four years, as long as they graduate the majority of all students in four years. The bill also provides incentives for schools, districts and states to create programs to serve students who have already dropped out of school, are over-age or under credited. The Every Student Counts Act builds on the National Governors Association’s Graduation Rate Compact that was signed by all 50 of the nation’s governors in 2005. Rep. Bobby Scott (VA) introduced companion bill, H.R. 1419, in the House.

Financial and Economic Literacy Improvement Act

Sen. Patty Murray (WA) introduced S. 787, the Financial and Economic Literacy Improvement Act, which aims to provide grants to promote financial literacy for students and adults. The grants would provide funding to states for resources to teach financial literacy in K-12 schools and 2-and 4-year colleges. The bill also proposes a clearinghouse of resources, tools, and best practices for financial and economic literacy education.

Success in the Middle Act

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) introduced S. 833, the Success in the Middle Act, which would fund grants for states to help school districts improve low-performing middle schools. The grants would be used for early intervention systems for at-risk youth, transition programs between elementary, middle, and high school, professional development, extended learning time, and personal academic plans. While the bill does not specifically mention CTE, there does seem to be a clear connection between the purposes of this bill and the work being done by the CTE community.

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