ERIC Number: ED351610
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Oct
High School Vocational Education. Low Esteem, Little Clout. Rand Education & Human Resources Program. Policy Brief Issue Number 1.
National Center for Research in Vocational Education, Berkeley, CA.; Rand Corp., Santa Monica, CA.
A 2-year, in-depth study of curriculum tracking in three large metropolitan-area high schools found that most high school teachers and administrators hold vocational education in low regard. Such thinking is a barrier to educational reforms proposed to integrate and improve academic and vocational education. Radical changes may be difficult to implement in large, comprehensive high schools with long-standing "tracking" systems, deeply rooted institutional cultures, and other constraints that range from parental or community demands and changing demographics to altered state requirements and resource cuts. The study found that at the three schools' honors and college-preparation courses were at the top in esteem and much of vocational education at the bottom. Vocational curriculum was held in such low esteem that it had practically no effect on curriculum decision making. Among barriers to change were the following: (1) there is a prevalent belief that high school students' abilities and motivation cannot be changed much; (2) almost all high schools act on these beliefs about students' differences by creating a split curriculum designed to accommodate students' various dispositions toward school work, not to alter them; (3) this split curriculum in high schools grants higher status to college-preparation courses, teachers, and students than to vocational courses, teachers, and students; and (4) matching students to courses is often strongly influenced by class, racial, and ethnic stereotypes. The study suggests that the present system is dysfunctional and that the only way to change it is to create a working model that displays a strong integrated curriculum. (KC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Vocational and Adult Education (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Center for Research in Vocational Education, Berkeley, CA.; Rand Corp., Santa Monica, CA.