ERIC Identifier: ED275887
Publication Date: 1986-00-00
Author: Naylor, Michele
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Granting Academic Credit for Vocational Education. Overview.
ERIC Digest No. 57.
Recent studies have criticized public education, creating public demand for
schools to strengthen their curricula in the basic skills. In response,
educational policymakers in many areas of the country have increased the number
of academic credits necessary for high school graduation. During 1984, at least
44 states increased their graduation requirements for science, math, and English
(Delaware Department of Public Instruction, 1985). The amount of time left for
vocational education courses has thus been reduced, and a debate has arisen over
the amount and type of vocational courses needed. One group argues that because
many non-college bound high school students may eventually attend college, a
broad background in the basic skills is necessary; another group counters that
raising the number of academic courses required for high school graduation will
deprive non-college bound students of the time needed for concrete training in
the occupations they will enter after high school. This overview will examine
one possible solution to the dilemma: the policy of granting academic credit for
basic skills training provided in vocational classrooms.
WHICH BASIC SKILLS CAN BE TAUGHT IN VOCATIONAL EDUCATION?
National and state surveys of teachers, administrators, and representatives
of the business community reveal a consensus that vocational education should do
more than prepare a student for a specific occupation. A survey conducted in New
York State indicated that besides providing training in the basic technical
skills that are common to a cluster of jobs, vocational education courses should
include instruction in 14 additional areas. Listed in ranked order, these are:
(1) employability skills; (2) abilities in problem solving, communications,
decision making, interpersonal relationships, and resource management; (3)
technological literacy; (4) ability to cope with life situations; (5) technical
reading, writing and mathematics skills related to a specific occupational or
practical arts instructional program; (6) career awareness; (7) basic reading,
writing, and mathematics skills; (8) safety; (9) knowledge of basic economic
concepts; (10) ability to take advantage of inevitable change; (11) technical
skills specific to one job; (12) awareness of the role and responsibility of
individuals working alone and in groups; (13) ability to manage a home and
personal business affairs; and (14) the capacity for self-fulfilling use of
leisure time (Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, 1986).
Attempting to address each of these areas while at the same time providing a
rigorous, hands-on program of instruction in a specific occupational area may
seem unrealistically ambitious, but evidence confirms that many vocational
programs already include a significant amount of instruction in at least some of
these skill areas. For example, vocational education students, teachers,
parents, and business and industry representatives in North Carolina were asked
to review existing and revised curriculum materials for three vocational
programs. Results indicated that the materials included significantly more
instruction in science and math skills than the respondents had imagined (Holsey
and Rosenfeld, 1985; Rosenfeld and Holsey, 1985).
WHICH PROGRAMS AWARD ACADEMIC CREDIT FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION?
As of 1985, 11 states had a policy allowing vocational credit to be counted
in lieu of science or math, and 16 states gave local school districts
jurisdiction over course credit approval. Only three states had a policy
prohibiting credit allowance for occupational and technical subjects as a
substitute for math, science, or any other required subject (Delaware Department
of Public Instruction, 1985). Described below are four approaches to granting
academic credit for basic skills instruction provided in vocational education
NEW YORK STATE REGENTS ACTION PLAN
New York is an example of a state with a highly structured, centralized
policy regarding the awarding of academic credit for vocational education.
Beginning with the class of 1988, all students were to have been required to
complete two units in mathematics and two units in science. However, these
regulations were modified so that, effective September 1, 1985, students
pursuing an approved sequence in occupational education and a local diploma
could satisfy one of the two required units in either or both of the subject
areas by completing a course in occupationally related mathematics and/or
occupationally related science. Each of these courses is a second-year course
that uses state-developed syllabi and curriculum materials. For those students
pursuing a Regents diploma, however, only Regents mathematics courses may be
used to fulfill the math requirement (Kadamus and Daggett, 1986).
VIRGINIA'S 20-CREDIT HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA
Like New York, Virginia has a state policy for awarding academic credit for
vocational education. In 1984 Virginia increased its requirements for high
school graduation from an 18- to a 20-credit minimum. The new diploma requires 2
years of math, 2 years of laboratory science, 3 years of social studies, and 4
years of English. Because of these increased requirements, a policy was
formulated allowing students to fulfill the math and science requirements by
completing a state-approved, 300-hour instructional sequence in agriculture,
business, distribution, health occupations, occupational home economics, and
trade and industrial education. Although the original standards did not permit
substitution from the areas of industrial arts or home economics, efforts were
initiated to develop alternative credit options in these areas as well. Unlike
the New York policy, however, Virginia's policy allowed individual districts
that wished to include specific substitution options not spelled out in the
regulations to submit them to the appropriate program for approval (Brown,
GREAT OAKS JOINT VOCATIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, CINCINNATI, OHIO
An experimental model for five vocational programs (dental assisting, chef's
training, electronics, welding, and industrial maintenance) was developed in
Cincinnati's Great Oaks Joint Vocational School District. The plan involved
condensing the vocational instruction formerly provided in the traditional 4
1/2-hour instructional period into a new 3-hour instructional block and having
the related instruction in math, science, and communications skills, subjects
which were formerly taught by vocational instructors, handled by trained subject
matter specialists. This new division in instruction was coordinated by (1)
sequencing the content of the five vocational programs into duty blocks and task
areas, (2) having vocational and academic subject matter teachers develop
related job or task sheets, and (3) assigning teachers in both areas weekly
duties to ensure continued coordination of instruction throughout the individual
courses (Migal, 1984).
2 + 2 TECH-PREP/ASSOCIATE DEGREE PROGRAM
The 2 + 2 model is a 4-year program providing for a closely coordinated
course of technical study that takes place during the last 2 years of high
school and 2 years at the community college level. The program is targeted
toward non-college bound students who are preparing to enter one of the
increasing number of midlevel technical occupations that require some, but not
baccalaureate-level, postsecondary education and training. The key structural
elements of the 2 + 2 program are (1) a formal articulation agreement outlining
the details of a close coordination between high school and college curricula;
(2) a sequence of applied courses in the basic skills that are intentionally
preparatory in nature; (3) instruction by high school teachers during the first
2 years of study, but with provision for student access to college staff and
facilities when appropriate; and (4) use of a career clusters and a technical
systems study approach in which students have a clearly defined view of the
4-year structure of their program of study. Thus, the key to the model is not
when or in which institution the technical part of the instruction is provided,
but rather that the instruction provided is coordinated to the greatest degree
possible, thereby permitting the most unified and efficient course of training.
Exemplary 2 + 2 projects include a program to train master technicians with
broad educational backgrounds in Newport News, Virginia, and a training program
in agriculture education that is offered in Bakersfield, California (Parnell,
HOW CAN SUCH PROGRAMS BE DEVELOPED?
One of the first steps in developing a program to award academic credit for
vocational education is to gain community and staff support. The previously
mentioned North Carolina surveys (Holsey and Rosenfeld, 1985; Rosenfeld and
Holsey, 1985) illustrate one strategy for increasing awareness of the extent to
which basic skills are already being covered in vocational classrooms. The
Corvallis School District (1986a, 1986b) in Corvallis, Oregon has published
companion implementation and in-service guides that include detailed guidelines
for developing standards for program certification and monitoring and for
ensuring adequate orientation and development of communication and mutual
respect between instructors of academic subject matter and vocational
instructors. Another point to remember is the importance of obtaining input from
the business and industry community when instructional content and course
standards are determined.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Brown, K. "The Vocational Approach to Math and Science." VOCED 59(7) (October
Corvallis School District. IMPLEMENTATION GUIDE FOR AN INTEGRATED VOCATIONAL
EDUCATION AND MATH SKILLS MODEL. Corvallis, OR: Corvallis School District,
1986a. ED 273 792.
Corvallis School District. INSERVICE GUIDE FOR AN INTEGRATED VOCATIONAL
EDUCATION AND MATH SKILLS MODEL. Corvallis, OR: Corvallis School District,
1986b. ED 273 793.
Delaware Department of Public Instruction. APPLYING THE ACADEMICS: A TASK FOR
VOCATIONAL EDUCATION. Dover: Delaware Department of Public Instruction, 1985. ED
Holsey, Lilla G., and Vila M. Rosenfeld. SCIENCE COMPETENCIES IN VOCATIONAL
EDUCATION. BUSINESS AND OFFICE EDUCATION, CONSUMER AND HOMEMAKING EDUCATION,
MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTIVE EDUCATION. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University,
1985. ED 267 253.
Kadamus, J.A., and W.R. Daggett. NEW DIRECTIONS FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AT
THE SECONDARY LEVEL. Information Series no. 311. Columbus: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, The National Center for Research in
Vocational Education. The Ohio State University, 1986. ED 272 771.
Migal, C.A. "Teachers Are Part of the Team." VOCED 59(5) (1984): 42-44.
Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. LITERATURE REVIEW ON IMPROVING
SECONDARY VOCATIONAL EDUCATION EFFECTIVENESS. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional
Educational Laboratory, 1986. ED 267 276.
Parnell, D. THE NEGLECTED MAJORITY. Washington, DC: The Community College
Press, 1985. ED 262 843.
Rosenfeld, Vila M., and Lilla G. Holsey. MATHEMATICS COMPETENCIES IN
VOCATIONAL EDUCATION, BUSINESS AND OFFICE EDUCATION, CONSUMER AND HOMEMAKING
EDUCATION, MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTIVE EDUCATION. Greenville, NC: East Carolina
University, 1985. ED 267 252.