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Career and Technical Education in Minnesota

Public Comment Notice

Update: The comment period is now closed.

Comment Period Opens: March 8, 2022
Comment Period Closes:
April 6, 2022 at 11:59 p.m.

Minnesota Revisions of Postsecondary Core Indicator State Determined Performance Levels

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, signed into law in July 2018, outlined secondary and postsecondary core accountability indicators for states to use to determine if they and their eligible local recipients are meeting statewide Career and Technical Education (CTE) goals. Minnesota’s definitions for the core accountability indicators can be found in the Accountability Definitions-Secondary and Accountability Definitions-Postsecondary documents.

In accordance with Perkins V, Section 113(b)(3)(A)(iii), Minnesota is seeking public comment on proposed revisions to State Determined Performance Levels (SDPLs), i.e., performance targets, for all three postsecondary core performance indicators. The initial SDPLs were defined in the Minnesota Perkins V State Plan which was originally approved by the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education in June 2020.

Circumstances Impacting Minnesota’s Ability to Meet Current State Determined Performance Levels

Governor Tim Walz signed Executive Order 20-01 in March 2020, declaring a peacetime emergency for Minnesota in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic continues to impact higher education in different ways across the state, including declines in postsecondary enrollment, fewer students completing their programs, sometimes due to barriers in completing the in-person requirements needed to obtain their degree (i.e., in-person classroom components that were delayed, inability to complete in-person internships or practicums, etc.), and challenges graduates experience in finding and keeping employment. Minnesota State believes the unanticipated and ongoing worldwide pandemic, combined with differing local and regional impacts this pandemic has had on enrollment and employment, will impact the state’s ability to meet the SDPLs that were established prior to the onset of the pandemic.

Minnesota operates within a consortium structure, with each consortium (i.e., eligible local recipient) being comprised of one or more secondary partners and one or more postsecondary institutions. Minnesota’s postsecondary Perkins V enrollment and accountability performance reporting, which includes participant and concentrator enrollment and performance reporting for the three postsecondary core performance indicators, are based on three-year cohorts. For example, for performance reporting for 2021, Minnesota largely reported on the 2019-2021 cohort, which included students who entered a Minnesota State college in 2018-2019 academic year and were tracked through the next two academic years, for a total of three years. The exception to this is for the 1P1 (Postsecondary Replacement and Retention) indicator, which provides the employment or continuing education rates of CTE graduates six months following program completion. Reporting on 1P1 is lagged by one cohort to allow time to collect and report employment or education status six months following spring term completers in the last year of the cohort. This means 2021 reporting was based on CTE completers in the 2018-2020 cohort.

The postsecondary cohort model is important to note because ultimately this model slows the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on postsecondary performance metrics while also spreading out the impact over a number of years since a portion of each cohort in the upcoming reporting years will be impacted by COVID-19 pandemic years, likely having the greatest impact on the cohort starting in the 2019-2020 academic year and going forward. This was evident in reviewing Minnesota’s performance rates in Perkins V grant year one (2021), which were generally not impacted by the pandemic. However, in Perkins V grant year two, the state expects enrollment declines, higher unemployment rates and extended time to complete programs to begin to impact the performance metrics, especially for individual consortia, with the impact only increasing over the next couple of years.

In addition to reviewing data on enrollment in system colleges, first term retention rates of students entering colleges fall or spring terms, participant and concentrator enrollment trends in the state, including concentrator enrollment by cluster, program completion, and state and regional employment data, Minnesota CTE staff asked the 25 Perkins consortium leaders to submit rationale around any regional or institution specific conditions related to the pandemic that they believed will impact their ability to meet their original established performance levels. This provided additional insight to current and future issues they were monitoring in terms of their impact on their ability to meet established SDPLs.

Based on the data review and the information provided by consortia leaders, Minnesota determined there is a need to revise the state, and consequently, consortium performance levels for all three postsecondary indicators for Perkins V grant reporting years two through four. At the same time, Minnesota also is making a minor adjustment to SDPLs for grant years two through four to accommodate for the unexpected departure of a local eligible postsecondary recipient from the Perkins V Grant after the baseline program year (2020).

The information provided below outlines the rationale and methodology applied for revising each of the three performance indicators. The goal of Minnesota State CTE staff was to revise the SDPLs to still be ambitious and hold the state accountable to meeting statewide CTE objectives, but to also revise them to be more realistic and achievable while acknowledging the impact the pandemic has had on postsecondary education and employment both in our state and across the country.

Proposed Revisions to State Determined Performance Levels

Based on the data reviewed for each core indicator, Minnesota approached the task of revising SDPLs similarly for each indicator. First, an adjustment was made to the SDPL for Perkins V grant year 1, which was used as the baseline to revise Perkins V grant years 2 through 4 SDPLs, to remove the consortium that unexpectedly left the Perkins V grant after the baseline year (2020). Then, for each of the three core indicators, Minnesota decreased the SDPL for grant year 2 to 90% of the ‘adjusted’ grant year 1 SDPL, further recommending that the State holds the SDPL at that level for the remaining grant years (3 and 4).  Table 1 below reflects the original and proposed SDPLs for each of the three core indicators, with additional information detailing the data reviewed and how that supports the revisions to each core indicator below the table.



1P1 (Postsecondary Retention and Placement) In Minnesota, this indicator measures the percentage of CTE Concentrators who complete a CTE program/award during the cohort timeframe and are enrolled in postsecondary education or employed during the second quarter following their program completion. Minnesota currently does not have a data source to identify completers who are in advanced training, in military service, or in national or community service. In the state’s review of unemployment rates, it was evident that, along with much of the country, Minnesota’s unemployment rates increased significantly between March/April of 2020 and March/April of 2021, with some improvement in rates towards the later quarters of calendar year 2020 and into 2021. The review of postsecondary enrollment data, both within Minnesota and nationally, also showed decreasing enrollment at the start of the pandemic, with decreases being larger during the pandemic than they had generally been prior to that, at least at two-year colleges. In Minnesota, postsecondary enrollment has continued to decrease through present time at our colleges and universities. National enrollment numbers also show continuing decreases in enrollment. These two things combined with the fact that the completers who are tracked for this indicator are spread across a three-year cohort timeframe and then tracked at a specific point in time following their program completion means that starting with the 2nd grant year (2022), a significant portion of the cohort the reporting is based on will be impacted by both increased unemployment rates and decreases in postsecondary enrollment. Grant years 3 and 4 will continue to be impacted, as those years will see the largest portion of the cohorts both completing their program and being measured for employment or continued education during the timeframe overlapping the pandemic.

2P1 (Earned Recognized Postsecondary Credential) In Minnesota, this indicator measures the percentage of CTE Concentrators in a cohort who complete a CTE program/award within the cohort timeframe. Minnesota State staff reviewed data on postsecondary retention rates for spring 2020 and fall 2020 entering cohorts of students in our two-year institutions. That data showed around a three percentage point drop in the first spring retention rate of fall entering students and less than a one percentage point drop in the first fall retention rate for spring entering students. Data on overall enrollment, CTE enrollment and postsecondary credentials/degrees awarded at system colleges were also reviewed, with declines seen in all those numbers over the last couple of years, with decreases in CTE awards slightly outpacing enrollment declines. This data review along with a review of trends in Minnesota’s 2P1 performance rate and assessment of the progress ‘active’ cohorts are making towards meeting the SDPLs set for grant years 2 through 4 supports making a modest decrease to this SDPL.

3P1 (Nontraditional Program Enrollment) This indicator measures the percentage of all CTE concentrators in a cohort who are enrolled in nontraditional CTE programs that are of the nontraditional gender (i.e., of all the concentrators enrolled in Nursing programs, which are nontraditional for males, the percentage that are male; of all the concentrators enrolled in automotive technician programs, which are nontraditional for females, the percentage that are female, etc.). Historical performance data for this indicator was examined, along with concentrator enrollment trends by career clusters. While this data revealed that this is an indicator Minnesota has been performing well on and seen increases in performance over the last few years, there are signs of decreasing concentrator enrollment in some nontraditional program areas. That, combined with overall decreases in enrollment in CTE and the unknown impact the pandemic is having on continued persistence of nontraditional students in nontraditional programs also supports making a slight decrease to the SDPL for this indicator.

The Perkins V Act is dedicated to increasing learner access to high-quality Career and Technical programs of study. It provides dedicated resources to implement programs and support the range of educational needs of students from exploration through career preparation. The addition of the required comprehensive local needs assessment strives to provide a balance between student needs with the current and emerging economic needs. 

For questions about the public comment, contact Karl Ohrn, Interim State Director for Career and Technical Education at

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