Policy & Funding

How ESSA and Perkins V Can Support STEAM

A new one page outline from the Education Commission of the States gives a quick rundown on how states and districts can use ESSA and Perkins V funds to support their STEAM education. The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) was signed into law in 2018 to provide funding for career and technical education (CTE) programs for young people and adults. Now states are going out to districts, schools and colleges to solicit their applications for the 2020-2021 school year.

As the brief explained, STEAM education is an approach to instruction "in which students demonstrate critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills at the intersection of science, technology, engineering, arts and math."

According to the Commission, on the Every Student Succeeds Act front, the prime opportunities for STEAM fall into ESSA section 4107 3-c-vi: Local education agencies may include STEAM programming as part of activities to support a well-rounded education by "integrating other academic subjects, including the arts, into STEM subject programs to increase participation in STEM subjects, improve attainment of skills related to STEM subjects, and promote well-rounded education." As an example, Pennsylvania's ESSA plan promoted STEAM education as a priority by agreeing to fund the creation of community learning centers in high-poverty and low-performing school communities, where children can gain "academic enrichment opportunities" after school.

For the Perkins V act, two sections are relevant: 124(b)(16) says that state leadership may use funds in "support for programs and activities that increase access, student engagement, and success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields (including computer science, coding, and architecture), support for the integration of arts and design skills, and support for hands-on learning, particularly for students who are members of groups underrepresented in such subject fields, such as female students, minority students, and students who are members of special populations"; and 135(b)(5)(Q) adds that Perkins funding can be used for "supporting the integration of arts and design skills, when appropriate, into career and technical education programs and programs of study." The Commission outline offered Texas as one exemplar; that state has organized CTE programming by career clusters, which include opportunities to support STEAM.

The one-page guidance is openly available on the Commission's website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.