Vocational Courses in High Schools Term Paper

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Vocational Courses in High School

"I'm dropping out of high school...."

Unfortunately, this quote, which relates to the introductory citation by Gray, occurs too frequently in high schools. This literature review, which encompasses 20 sources, explores reasons relating to the inclusion of vocational courses in high school, and presents ways this effort counters and/or coalesces the high school dropout rate. The 20 researched sources are presented from the oldest to the most recently published and primarily include information from scholarly journals.

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Term Paper on Vocational Courses in High Schools Assignment

In Career Centered High School Education and Post-High School Career Adaptation, a journal article, Susan Gore, Stacey Kadish, and Robert H. Aseltine Jr. purport: "The poor quality of jobs available to young people who lack education beyond high school has been well documented over the past three decades (see Lewis, Stone, Shipley, & Madzar, 1998; Rosenbaum, Kariya, Setterstein, & Maier, 1990)." These authors argue that current courses and curriculum choices are not working and that "alternative public and private mechanisms for achieving effective career pathways must be developed." (Gore, Kadish & Aseltine, 2003) Gore, Kadish and Aseltine (2003) examine whether students participating in career-centered high school programs experience a better work-life after they graduate from high school. Initially, during the winter and spring of 1998, and then approximately 2.5 years later, a second time, the authors collect data from a group of 1,143 high school seniors. Schools included a University-based consortium of schools involved in curriculum development for school-to-work initiatives. "In each case, a school-to-work focus is embedded within the standard state-mandated curriculum requirements and is reflected in the concept of a career-major or pathway, that is, career-centered study that is typically formalized in the junior year and which may include internships." (Gore, Kadish & Aseltine, 2003) Although the effects and explained variance were reportedly minute, results of the study by Gore, Kadish and Aseltine (2003) offer modest support that a student's career-major influences some psychological aspects of work adaptation. These authors note a consistent positive effect of the major observed exists for the three subjective measures of job quality and career progress. Collectively, results of the three subjective measures "indicate that the career-majors perceive themselves as in a job or job situation that has future potential and that meets personal expectations about where they 'should be' in their career development."

Preparing Adolescents

In the journal article, Preparing Rural Adolescents for Post-High School Transitions, Richard T. Lapan, Bradley Tucker, Se-Kang Kim, John F. Kosciulek, contend that: "Preparing adolescents from diverse backgrounds to transition more effectively into satisfying, productive, and personally valued post-high school settings has become one of the central responsibilities for counselors working in school settings." The authors assess preparation for the post-high school transition in two ways:

Researchers collected measurements of six individual career constructs.

Researchers assessed students' satisfaction with "their school's help toward achieving future educational and career goals and the level of education required by students' anticipated first post-high school setting." (Lapan, Tucker, Kim & Kosciulek, 2003)

The four curriculum strategies studied were (a) the organization of classes around a career goal (organized curriculum), (b) teaching instruction that demonstrates to students the relevance of course content to the world of work (relevant curriculum), - work-based learning experiences, and (d) connected learning activities. Emotional/instrumental support for students from the following stakeholders was also studied: (a) school counselors, (b) teachers, and - multiple stakeholders (i.e., global rating of overall support from eight different sources, including parents). (Lapan, Tucker, Kim & Kosciulek, 2003)

Results from the study Lapan, Tucker, Kim & Kosciulek (2003) conducted proved to be as expected: "the six constructs that make up the career development composite variable were often significantly correlated with each other across the three samples of students."

The enormity of these relationships suggest that even though they relate to each another, the six constructs individually also address independent aspects of career development.

The authors stress the current need exists for schools to help students learn how to thrive in the economy they plan to enter. (Reilly, 2000, cited by Lapan, Tucker, Kim & Kosciulek, 2003) Schools and school programs, as well as, practicing counselors and researchers will increasingly be held accountable; the authors contend, for the opportunity to connect career development activities to current, critical educational reform enterprises. (Herr, 1969; Hoyt, 1998, cited by Lapan, Tucker, Kim & Kosciulek, 2003)

Initiation Into the Real World

In Teaching to Learn, Learning to Teach: A Handbook for Secondary School Teachers, a book by Alan J. Singer (2003, p. 41), Steve Bologna shares his personal experience of attending vocational school: "During my junior year of high school, I was placed in a vocational training program for aircraft mechanics. They taught us to do everything 'by the book.' We were supposed to follow directions and work step-by-step according to the manual. The best part of the program was that it taught me how to handle tools and how to work with others. I had a big surprise when I began working as an aircraft mechanic.

The old-timers quickly initiated us into the real world. They put the manual aside and took shortcuts as they worked. In the beginning, I questioned their methods, but as time passed I realized they understood the job. Being a mechanic was about solving problems, not simply following instructions. This is the most significant thing I learned from my vocational training and I think it will help me wherever I go, whatever I do. People learn best by doing and the most important learning is figuring out how to solve problems." (Singer, 2003, p. 41)

Career and Technical Education

Is High School Career and Technical Education Obsolete?, the title for the journal article by Kenneth Gray, the point is stressed that: "The lack of an alternative to strict academics is one reason why most dropouts choose to leave school in the first place. And while academics are important for any occupation, any labor market advantage for the work-bound high school student who is competing for jobs that provide career possibilities and a living wage comes from having occupation-specific skills as well." (Gray, 2004, p. 128) Gray questions the viability of high school vocational education, currently known as Career and Technical Education (CTE) and notes that the common academic curriculum approach does not proffer a substantial amount of relevance to particularly the 25% of students who drop out of high school, as well as, the 30% of students who do graduate from high school and move straightforwardly into the workforce. Curriculum choices are vital at the high school level, Gray contends - if the goal to leave no child behind constitutes a truth. "No single program of study will work with all students." (Gray, 2004, p. 128) to some students, CTE fills the same need as Advanced Placement and honors courses fill of others.

No National Standards or Curriculum

Cathleen Stasz and Susan Bodilly (2004), authors of Efforts to Improve the Quality of Vocational Education in Secondary Schools: Impact of Federal and State Policies, report:

The National Assessment of Vocational Education -- a congressionally-mandated study -- is charged with evaluating the impact of the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998, known as Perkins III, and preparing a report to Congress by July 2002. As part of that effort, the National Assessment of Vocational Education commissioned RAND to conduct a study to assess the quality of vocational education in the United States. The purpose of the study is twofold. It will provide evidence on the extent to which actual practice is consistent with legislative and other views of what constitutes "quality" practice in secondary vocational education. It also will provide evidence regarding how policies made at different levels of the education system enhance or impede implementation of quality practice. RAND's findings as described in this report provide some of the information NAVE needs to evaluate the impact of the Perkins Act and prepare its report to Congress. They also yield lessons for the larger vocational education community by identifying strategies that can be adopted by schools, communities and states to improve the quality of vocational education programs.

Vocational and technical education is defined in Public Law 105-332 as organized educational activities that individuals need to prepare for further education and for careers requiring less than a baccalaureate degree. The educational activities are to offer a sequence of courses that provide individuals the necessary academic and technical knowledge and skills and to include competency-based applied learning. Federal funding for vocational education commenced with the passage of the Smith-Hughes Act in 1917, and since that time federal legislation has sought to shape vocational education in specific ways. Vocational education, like all education in the United States, has traditionally been the domain of states and local communities. The federal government plays an important role in education through its leadership and funding, but the vocational education "system" has no national standards or curriculum. (Stasz, and Bodilly, 2004)

Federal legislation purports to, over time, enhance influence over state vocational education programs. Specific… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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