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Some progress has been achieved; in fiscal year 1965 only 24 percent of the Nation's high school students were receiving vocational education.
Reasons for the problem-educators' viewpoint
Vocational educators at all levels have stated to us and in published reports that many high school students who need vocational education are not receiving it because (1) not enough money is available for vocational education and (2) it has a bad image (too many people-students, parents, counselors, and nonvocational teachers and administrators -think that vocational education is not the road to a successful careerr, because this can be attained only through a college degree).
The following are representative views expressed by vocational educators about the funding and image problems.
Too many persons relate vocational education to "shop" or "manual training" classes of the past, which became the repository of any child considered to be below average.
Teachers and counselors are academically oriented and do not know about the advantages of vocational education. As a result, they direct promising students away from vocational education courses.
Twice the amount of money presently available is needed to achieve the objectives of the act. The current level of Federal funding is comparable to a doctor trying to treat a large wound with a bandaid.
At the local level, there is apathy toward vocational education. For example, one State hoped to build a vocational school in a certain county, but local voters turned down a tax proposal for providing their share of the funds.
We believe that the funding and image problems may be interrelated and self-perpetuating; vocational education's poor image could prevent it from being adequately funded and inadequate funding could make it difficult to overcome the bad image.
Evidence tends to be conflicting
Our review showed indications of both an image problem and a lack of funds, as well as underutilized facilities, for vocational education in some school districts. However, we also noted situations where there did not appear to be an aversion to vocational education. These circumstances, discussed below, demonstrate the desirability of a detailed evaluation of the problem. Our review showed, however, that no specific studies on the image problem had been made.
Funding—is it enough!
Vocational educators say they are not getting a fair share of today's eduention dollar, even at the secondary level where vocational education is most concentrated. We are not able to comment on the fairness of vocational education's share of total expenditures for education because of the subjective nature of such a judgment. The following chart illustrates, however, the percentages of the total expenditures for secondary education which were applicable to vocational education in the four States in fiscal year 1970.
We did find, however, that some school districts do not allocate any of their education dollars to vocational education. The following table, listing the total number of school districts and secondary students in the four States and the number of districts and students without any vocational programs during the 1970-71 school year, illustrates this.
We could not determine the reasons for this situation. However, if the resi dents of school districts that did not have vocational education thought they needed it, it probably would have been made available.
NOTE: Many students receiving vocational education also take subjects included under funds for all other secondary programs.
Vocational education's image-the differing views in large cities
The aversion to vocational education seemed to be most prevalent in the large cities included in our review, even though not all schools or vocational courses in the large cities had the problem.
In one large city, for example, equipment worth over $250,000 for a course in machine shop was not being used to capacity. The school officials said that the equipment was used to only one-third of available capacity, because students and their parents believed to be a "second-class citizen," as opposed to the ideal of going to college and achieving meaningful positions. The officials said this attitude prevailed, even though job openings were available locally for graduates of this course. On the other hand, we found instances in which vocational education's image appeared to be one of “a road to success."
In a comprehensive high school in a large city, school officials told us that there was generally a favorable image of vocational education. In fact, the school advertises its commercial food course in junior high schools throughout the city, and the students come from all over the city to attend the course. According to the officials, the course is always fully attended and graduates have no trouble finding jobs.
Officials in another large city told us that vocational education had an image problem in that city at one time, but that they thought it had been overcome for the most part. They said this had been achieved through such measures as constructing new buildings, getting better quality students into vocational curriculums, getting good industry cooperation, and ridding guidance counselors of their preoccupation with college preparatory curriculums. As evidence of the lack of an image problem, officials in this city cited strong citizen support for vocational education and one vocational school which has an excellent reputation in the city. This school, they said, had 600 applications for the 1971-72 school year but could accept only 450 new students. They said the school's reputation had spread by word of mouth and was based largely on its record for placing its graduates.
A favorable image in some locations
The medium- and small-sized cities included in our review seemed to have much less of an image problem than the large cities. Vocational education officials in one medium-sized city said the image of their program could be, and was being, improved. The attitudes of nonvocational teachers and counselors was the area most needing improvement. Vocational education's image was such, however, that it had won widespread acceptance by the students, and the vocational classes were enrolled to capacity. According to the officials, the new vocational-technical school being opened for the 1971-72 school year was badly needed. Some of the most enthusiastic supporters of vocational education in this city were the vocational students. Officials said that vocational education's image was being improved by such measures as (1) the new vocational-technical center with its campus-like atmosphere, (2) the mixing of vocational and nonvocational students in nonvocational classes to the point that the teachers in these classes frequently could not tell them apart, and (3) the heavy involvement of the State employment service in the placement of vocational students into part-time jobs during school and into permanent jobs upon graduation.
CAREFR EDUCATION PLANNED
The Vocational Education Act requires each State desiring funds to submit a State plan for vocational education which is reviewed by HEW for compliance with the act and with HEW's implementing guidelines. The four States' plans and the interpretation of objectives by State officials were consistent with the act, and the State officials agreed on the general direction to be taken in vocational education. They envision that the ideal system will include:
A kindergarten through sixth-grade program designed to create an awareness and a respect for work;
A seventh and eighth-grade program to provide exposure to the whole spectrum of employment and to build a basis for the career exploration program;
A ninth- and tenth-grade career exploration program in which students will explore work possibilities and determine what they want to do; A program for dropout-prone youths of ages 14 and 15;
A preparatory job training vocational education program for the majority of the students in the 11th and 12th grades (secondary level), or at age 16, which provides a significant breadth of vocational education so that any student, regardless of ability, can be trained;
a post-secondary technical program for those students who have gradnated, or have dropped out, from high schools and want to enter the technical fields; and
An adult vocational education program to serve those adults who need retraining or upgrading of their present skills,
None of the four States, however, were able to achieve what they believed to be the ideal system. The States have concentrated on the last three phases listed above-secondary, pose-secondary, and adult-with the greatest amount of effort expended at the secondary level.
The HEX Commissioner at Lineaton has been actively supporting an educational aorac et 900 atDL win 3 quite similar to the Rystem ERTADBed 17 the four vows. Caner etwanon modes are being developed at ex leations ammd the sancy with HEW assistance (financial and teran.ca.. but this development is not selected for completion until December 17.3.
POTENTIAL EFFECT 45 MANPOWER PROGRAMS
An important factor to encoder is the impact that vocational education programa Late on an areas manpower training programs. Youth who are not exposed to a good Toranocal edsatsa program in secondary school, either because it is not available or because it is rejected due to an image problem. would seem to be lang andare after they realize that they do not have salable skills in the joo market-fir manpower training programs. Over 300.000 young people, azed 21 or poonger, entered federally funded manpower training programs during fscal year 1971.
Such programs may or may Dot be as effective as vocational education courses in teaching job skills in a regular school environment-we know of no studies comparing the two-but these programs are a more expensive way to train people for jobs because stipends are paid to enrollees and a range of supportive services is generally provided. Finding ways to equip people—– particularly high school students-with salable skills would seem to offer prospects for reducing future needs for manpower programs.
Not all persons who need vocational education are receiving it.
The vocational educators see the primary problems as insufficient funding and a bad image caused by an overemphasis on academic (4-year college preparatory) curriculums. We believe that these factors may be interrelated and self-perpetuating; an aversion to vocational education results in an unwillingness to provide funds and the lack of funds results in poor or insufficient programs and/or the inability to promote a more favorable image. Yet there has been little or no research or systematic information gathering on the exact nature and extent of the image problem and its relationship, if any, to the availability of funds for vocational education. The wide variation in vocational education's image from location to location and school to school indicates that such image problems, as may have existed, have been overcome in some instances.
We think that research is needed in this area so that a better understanding can be had of why all those persons who would benefit from vocational education either do not receive it or do not want it. This research could be undertaken by the recently authorized National Institute of Education or could be undertaken jointly by the Federal and State governments. In any event, a strong Federal leadership role would appear to be necessary so that the results of the research can be adequately disseminated throughout the country. The questions studied during this research should relate to:
1. The extent that aversions to vocational education are caused by a widesprend view that only a college degree can lead to a successful career.
2. The reason for the apparent absence of an aversion to vocational education in some schools.
3. Whether aversions to vocational education programs are caused by the reputed poor quality of some programs and, if so, whether that reputation is warranted.
4. Whether statistics and other information on the careers of vocational graduates would impress those persons who have an aversion to vocational education.
5. The relationship of present levels of funding to vocational education's Image problem where it exists, and the probable impact of additional funding on that problem.
6. The probable impact of a career education program on the attitudes of those concerned.
The importance of understanding more about why vocational education programs are successful in some locations and not in others is that this type of training appears to be the key to the job opportunities opening up in this decade. According to the Department of Labor, eight out of 10 jobs to be filled
during the 1970s will be open to people who have not completed 4 years of college; therefore, a vocationally oriented education would seem to provide greater opportunity for obtaining these jobs.
RECOMMENDATION TO THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE
We recommend that the Secretary of HEW undertake research into the exact nature and extent of the funding and image problems attached to vocational education, with a view toward determining what actions may be neces sary to more fully achieve the objectives of the Vocational Education Act.
AGENCY COMMENTS AND ACTIONS
The Assistant Secretary, Comptroller, agreed with our recommendation, stating that:
"The Office of Education, through its central and regional offices, will undertake research into what appears to be primarily an attitudinal matter. In addi tion, a research study of a positive and definitive type will be mounted as soon as practicable to produce a report on vocational education graduates who have been employed for five or more years."
Although officials of the four States also agreed with our findings and recom mendations, they-supported to some degree by HEW-believed that more balance could have been achieved in our report by adding the positive accomplishments made in vocational education. The following comments made by an Ohio official illustrate the types of positive comments he believed were needed in the report.
"In Ohio during fiscal year 1971 we served over 423,000 youth and adults through vocational education. At the national level preliminary figures indicate the approved vocational programs served over 10 million people in the nation. We realize that the number of people served is inadequate, but can you tell me of any other work training program in this nation which has any where near the contribution to the nation as the vocational education program? Can you identify any other Federal investment which generates State and local expenditures of $5 to $6 for every Federal dollar expended?
"While the achievements of vocational education are massive, they are still limited in terms of the quantity of services needed. The funding, however, has been totally inadequate, both in terms of authorization within the Federal legislation and appropriations under the act. A quantification of the goals established and an assignment of dollar values to such goals indicates that an appropriation of approximately $15 billion would be needed in order to implement the Federal share of the goals. The report includes no bench marks from the past, nor projection of needs for the future and no comparison with other Federal investments, such as the fact that at the Federal level they are Investing approximately $14 in higher education for every dollar in voca tional education."
Some of these matters were beyond the scope of our review. Because of this and the incomplete and inaccurate management information discussed in chapter 4, we could not arrive at unqualified conclusions on program accompiishments.
CHAPTER 3.— FUNDS TARGETED FOR THE DISADVANTAGED MISS THE MARK Some Federal funds which should have been used for special programs or services for persons unable to succeed in vocational education without such services were used instead for regular vocational education programs. This happened in the four States because most State and local officials did not properly understand HEW's use of the term "disadvantaged." As a result, the funds were not available for persons needing the special programs or services. The fact that many State and local school officials misunderstood the requirements of the Vocational Education Act and of HEW's implementing guidelines regarding the use of funds for the disadvantaged indicated that more definitive guidance by HEW is necessary. Also, if HEW and the States had more closely monitored implementation of the requirements, misunderstandings would have been apparent much sooner and attempts could have been made to correct the situation.
The 1968 amendments to the Vocational Education Act require that not less than 15 percent of the basic grants to States and all of the funds appropriated specifically for this purpose be used: