Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to House amended (09/07/2004)

Vocational and Technical Education of the Future Act - Amends the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act of 1998 (the Act) to reauthorize and revise its programs.

(Sec. 3) Revises the definition of vocational and technical education (VTE) to provide that the sequence of courses it offers: (1) may include preparation for careers requiring a baccalaureate degree (this is currently not permitted); (2) may include provision of skills or courses necessary to enroll in the required sequence; and (3) at the postsecondary level, provides for a one-year certificate, an associate degree, or industry-recognized credential.

(Sec. 5) Extends through FY 2010 the authorization of appropriations for programs under the Act, including: (1) grants to States for VTE; and (2) Tech-Prep education programs (currently funded separately under a title II repealed by this Act).

(Sec. 6) Prohibits: (1) construing the Act to authorize Federal mandates with respect to State or local curricula or payment of any costs not paid for under the Act; (2) requiring a State to have academic and VTE content or student academic and VTE achievement standards approved or certified by the Federal government to receive assistance under the Act; and (3) precluding a State that declines to submit an application for assistance under the Act from applying for assistance under any other program administered by the Secretary of Education (the Secretary). Provides that these prohibitions shall not be construed to affect specified accountability requirements.

(Sec. 7) Revises the allotment for national activities to reduce the portion of funds reserved for outlying areas.

Revises hold-harmless provisions to set the FY 2004 funding level for VTE grants to States and for Tech-Prep programs as the minimum State allotment. Retains, for FY 2005, certain minimum State allotment requirements.

Revises within-State allocation formulas to increase the minimum portion of funds to be distributed to secondary school programs and postsecondary VTE programs. Reduces the minimum portion for State plan administration, but retains a specified minimum monetary amount for such purpose.

(Sec. 8) Sets forth separate core indicators of State performance for secondary and postsecondary VTE students. Requires academic standards for secondary students under the Act to conform with those established by States that participate in programs for disadvantaged students under in title I, part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA-IA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of of 2001 (NCLBA).

Requires eligible recipients to establish local adjusted levels of performance standards and agreements in their local plans.

Requires both local and State reports to: (1) disaggregate data for each of the indicators of performance for the categories of students enumerated under ESEA-IA as amended by NCLBA; and (2) identify and quantify disparities or gaps in performance between any such category of students and the performance of all students served by the local recipient or State agency.

(Sec. 9) Requires international comparisons to be in the aggregate, for purposes of national program performance information.

Directs the Secretary to appoint an independent advisory council to advise on, and analyze findings and recommendations resulting from, a national program assessment.

Authorizes the Secretary to award incentive grants to eligible agencies for exemplary performance in carrying out VTE programs under the Act.

(Sec. 10) Increases VTE grant amounts for Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands. Directs the Secretary to make a grant to the Republic of Palau. Makes such Republic ineligible for funding for outlying areas under the Act when it enters an agreement for extension of U.S. educational assistance after enactment of this Act.

Extends the authorization of appropriations for grants to programs at tribally controlled VTE institutions. Prohibits the Secretary from requiring the use of a restricted indirect cost rate for such grants.

Extends the authorization of appropriations for national and State-level occupational and employment information activities.

(Sec. 12) Requires State plans to describe how Tech-Prep activities will be carried out, with specified allocated funds, to prepare students for postsecondary education or employment in high-demand occupations, through a seamless program of advanced academic and technical courses that include a minimum of two years of secondary school preceding graduation and a minimum of two years of higher education or an apprenticeship program of at least two years following secondary instruction.

Requires State plans to cover a six-year, rather than five-year, period.

Includes charter school authorizers and organizers, parents, students, and community organizations among entities to be involved in the hearing process and State plan development. Includes institutions of higher education in State plan development, but removes a requirement for representatives of special populations. Requires State plans to include provisions for: (1) developing model sequences of courses for VTE content areas; (2) criteria to assess the extent to which local plans will promote continuous and substantial improvement in academic achievement and technical skill attainment; (3) development of a progression of courses to lead to a postsecondary one-year certificate, associate's or baccalaureate degree, or proficiency credential in conjunction with a secondary school diploma; (4) eligible recipients' mutual assistance and coordination in offering model sequences of courses; (5) linking of secondary and postsecondary VTE; and (6) comprehensive professional development of VTE and related personnel.

(Sec. 13) Directs the State agency to use the local adjusted levels of performance in reviewing local evaluations to determine if a local program improvement plan is required and technical assistance is necessary. Authorizes the State agency to sanction local recipients and make alternative arrangements in specified circumstances.

(Sec. 14) Revises requirements for State leadership activities.

(Sec. 16) Eliminates a special rule for redistribution of funds.

(Sec. 17) Revises requirements for local plans for VTE programs to include: (1) comprehensive professional development of personnel; and (2) activities to prepare special populations, including single parents and displaced homemakers, for high-skill, high-wage occupations.

(Sec. 18) Includes support of Tech-Prep programs among local uses of VTE funds.

Sets forth local uses relating to: (1) the State-developed model sequence of courses; (2) linking secondary and postsecondary VTE programs; (3) VTE-related mathematics and science education; (4) activities for special populations; (5) adult students changing careers or updating skills; (6) industry professionals as postsecondary faculty; (7) integrating academic education and VTE; (8) distance education; (9) entrepreneurship education and training; (10) developing new proposed model sequences of courses; and (11) information on supportive services.

(Sec. 19) Repeals title II of the Act, Tech-Prep Education.

(Sec. 20) Redesignates the current title III, General Provisions, as title II of the Act.

Sets forth requirements for equitable participation of private school children in programs under the Act.