Observations on Ways the Navy Can Improve Curricula Development for Initial Skill Training

NSIAD-85-33: Published: Dec 18, 1984. Publicly Released: Dec 18, 1984.

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GAO reviewed selected Navy schools which provide initial skill training for entry-level sailors to determine whether the Navy's system for developing curricula adequately considers the diversity inherent in Navy occupations.

In many cases, GAO found that the jobs required of sailors in the same occupations varied between shore duty and sea duty, as well as among ships. Without a thorough analysis of what should be taught, this diversity could result in curricula that include many tasks that are seldom performed at the entry level. Teaching skills which are not needed results in longer courses than necessary, increased costs, delays in getting sailors to the fleet, and a reduction in the number of personnel that can be trained. In an analysis of four occupational schools, GAO found that each school taught some tasks needed by less than 30 percent of the sailors. In addition, one occupation had very few tasks, and these tasks were being taught at both the entry-level school and the fleet training center. Although curricula changes are being made, GAO found that the schools still teach tasks not needed by most entry-level sailors, thereby unnecessarily extending training time. If material not needed by entry-level sailors were deleted from the school courses, one school's time period could be reduced by 4 weeks, two schools' time periods could be reduced by 2 weeks each, and another school's time period could be reduced by 3 weeks or eliminated by sending sailors to fleet training centers where the same material was being taught.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy reduced its "A" school training for 21 support skills, including 4 covered in the GAO review, by 25 percent or 477 man-years. This reduction included eliminating material not needed by most entry-level sailors.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should, while the new curriculum development guidelines are being developed, delete the material not needed by most entry-level sailors in the four "A" schools studied so that training resources can be better spent.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy issued instructions to tighten the controls on the assessment process.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should, while the new curriculum development guidelines are being developed, review the current feedback system for "A" schools, called Level II surveys, to see if changes can be made in the timing of the questionnaires, and if stricter requirements can be set for action to be taken when deficiencies are noted.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy revised its curriculum development process and the identification of environmental settings as a factor that is considered among others when developing instructional media.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should, in developing new guidelines for curriculum development, consider the alternatives other than "A" school, such as on-the-job training and use of fleet training centers, for teaching skills that are not needed by most entry-level sailors.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy revised its instruction OPNAVINST 1550.8B on November 19, 1987. This instruction requires specific reasons for including/retaining low-usage material in any training program shall be justified and documented to establish an audit trail.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should, in developing new guidelines for curriculum development, require identification of material in the curriculum that is needed by few sailors in an occupation and documentation of reasons for including that material.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy revised its instruction OPNAVINST 1550.8B on November 19, 1987. This instruction requires that the Navy's commands ensure that they design training materials to teach only that information which will be used by at least 30 percent of course graduates.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should, in developing new guidelines for curriculum development, ensure that there are provisions for specific use of data that identify the percentage of entry-level sailors in an occupation performing a task.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Navy decided to keep the ship servicemen "A" school, but as part of its 25-percent reduction of support skill training. The Navy eliminated material not needed by most entry-level ship servicemen.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should, while new curriculum development guidelines are being developed, determine whether it is worthwhile to keep the ship serviceman "A" school since the core tasks are limited and are taught elsewhere in the Navy.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy

 

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