A Qualitative Analysis of High School Level Vocational Education in the United States – Three Decades of Positive Change
Historically plagued by concerns about the quality of the curriculum, instruction, vocational education teachers, and responsiveness to the needs of the workplace, the United States vocational education system has long suffered from negative perceptions among students, parents, school personnel, policymakers, and business and industry representatives. However, in the years since the publication of The Unfinished Agenda (National Commission on Secondary Vocational Education. The unfinished agenda: the role of vocational education in the high school. National Center for Research in Vocational Education, Columbus, 1984), a highly critical report authored by The National Commission on Secondary Vocational Education, the U.S. vocational education system has undergone many changes and reforms. Many of these changes have focused on the vocational education curriculum and have been directed at ensuring a supply of skilled labour to address the skills gap that exits between the abilities of workers and the needs of the workplace. Other changes have increased linkages to post-high school training to meet the needs for a more educated workforce. Additional efforts have focused on increasing school-business/industry collaboration, improving teacher quality and marketing the value of vocational education. Challenges still remain, including funding for vocational education, providing career awareness and guidance for students as they progress through school, and educating an increasingly diverse high school student population.
KeywordsVocational Education High School Dropout Vocational Program Agricultural Education Vocational Education Program
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