Vocational Education:

Changes at High School Level After Amendments to Perkins Act

HEHS-95-144: Published: Jul 12, 1995. Publicly Released: Jul 12, 1995.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO compared student participation and program features in high school vocational education programs between the 1991 and 1994 school years, focusing on the: (1) availability of support services; (2) the extent to which program students attended college or found employment following graduation; and (3) extent to which schools have enhanced the quality of vocational education programs.

GAO found that: (1) between 40 and 50 percent of students in special population groups participated in vocational education programs in 1990 through 1994, despite the removal of the set-aside requirement; (2) schools continued to offer all students access to support services at the same or greater levels in 1994 than in 1991; (3) there was no significant changes in the proportion of program students who attended college, went directly to work, or were unemployed; (4) the percentage of schools offering tech-prep programs increased from 27 percent in 1991 to 45 percent in 1994 and the percentage of students participating in the programs rose from 9 to 16 percent, respectively; (5) traditional school-to-work transition programs showed no major change in participation; (6) teacher training in integrating vocational and academic instruction also increased, but most of the schools surveyed did not use integrated learning concepts in the classroom; (7) some school districts reported increased use of quality indicators in their self-assessment processes, however, the number of vocational education programs that require graduates to meet competency standards has remained stable; and (8) many of the program features associated with high-quality vocational education still affect a relatively small percentage of students and many more students will need to be exposed to these features before they become a standard part of vocational education.

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