Many federal policies play important and complementary roles in shaping the nation's education system, in addition to ESSA and Perkins CTE (described previously). The Higher Education Act (HEA) establishes important postsecondary student financial aid programs, provides systems for early identification and support for secondary students' transition to postsecondary opportunities, dictates funding streams for institutions of higher education, and establishes oversight for K-12 teacher preparation programs and quality teacher training. The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) provides federal funding for the education of children with disabilities while also serving as a civil rights statute protecting the rights of parents and children with disabilities. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds the matching of labor market needs with education, training, and support services for youth and adults looking for meaningful employment, as well as adult education, and literacy activities for out-of-school youth and adults who lack a high school diploma or proficiency in English. Other laws and regulations, like the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA) set regulations and requirements for federally funded research, including that on the STEM education, can also affect opportunities for education stakeholders. All of policies influence state and local education strategies and have the potential touch afterschool and summer learning programs.
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ESSA, IDEA, Perkins, HEA, WIOA, and other policies and regulations can all support a rich STEM learning ecosystem that provides individuals with the academic, technical, and employability skills they need to be successful in their futures. An understanding of how each of these policies impact the education system is useful when thinking about innovative ways to support 21st century skills development, postsecondary education preparedness, and a career-ready workforce.