Vocational Education

Status in School Year 1990-91 and Early Signs of Change at Secondary Level Gao ID: HRD-93-71 July 13, 1993

The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act Amendments of 1990 seek to improve the overall quality of vocational education and ensure that all students, including targeted groups, such as the disabled, have access to vocational education programs. Although the Perkins Act provides only about 10 percent of vocational education funding nationwide, many vocational education experts view it as a driving force in setting national vocational education priorities. The law requires GAO to undertake two four-year studies--one of secondary schools and one of postsecondary schools--to identify changes that have taken place in vocational education programs since the amendments took effect. The reporting deadline is July 1995. This interim report provides preliminary information on (1) the status of vocational programs in secondary schools in school year 1990-91 and (2) changes reported in school year 1991-92.

GAO found that: (1) although schools generally do not have many of the quality components and instructional approaches needed, changes in vocational-technical training have begun; (2) funding for vocational education has not changed because of the limited number of secondary schools in each district and larger districts do not fund all of their schools; (3) the number of school districts participating in consortia has significantly increased and enabled smaller districts to implement vocational programs; (4) although sufficient data are not available to adequately measure the effectiveness of set-asides for targeted groups, preliminary information suggests that students in targeted groups participate in vocational education programs at equal or higher rates than other students; (5) the Department of Education, states, and local school districts need to improve their efforts to assess vocational programs; (6) although Education has begun implementation of the national data system and taken additional steps to improve data collection, data gaps still remain; and (7) although states plan to develop standards to evaluate vocational programs, such as postgraduation placement data, half of the schools do not collect placement data.

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