ERIC Identifier: ED282095
Publication Date: 1987-00-00
Author: Naylor, Michele
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Articulation between Secondary or Postsecondary Vocational
Education Programs and Proprietary Schools. Overview. ERIC Digest No. 64.
The benefits of articulation between secondary and postsecondary vocational
programs are clear. Miller and Imel (1987) credit well-thought-out articulation
arrangements with reducing duplication of learning, increasing the effectiveness
and efficiency of learning, improving program content and standards, allowing
for fuller use of existing program facilities and equipment, providing a more
attractive option for students and thereby supporting high school completion,
and enabling postsecondary institutions to obtain larger enrollments and better
As the benefits of articulation become more widely understood, increasing
research is being done on the subject. Little research has yet to be done,
however, on articulation between vocational programs at the secondary and/or
postsecondary level and proprietary schools. This Digest examines the barriers
to articulation, some successful articulation arrangements and models, and
strategies for initiating and maintaining articulation arrangements.
WHAT ARE PROPRIETARY SCHOOLS?
According to Parnell (1985),
there are an estimated 6,000 proprietary (private) technical schools throughout
the United States. Lerner (1987) defines them as "for-profit institutions, both
schools or colleges, that provide occupational programs" (p. vii) and adds that
they may be publicly or privately held.
According to Lerner, proprietary schools have been formally recognized as
part of the postsecondary system since the 1972 Education Amendments. Students
enrolled in proprietary schools became eligible for federally insured loans in
1965 and have been eligible for other federally sponsored loan and grant
programs since 1972. Proprietary schools are also permitted to contract with
local educational agencies to provide vocational training programs supported
through the Vocational Education Act.
Lerner stresses that despite their often humble beginnings modern proprietary
schools generally have excellent facilities, staffed with well-trained
professionals, outfitted with up-to-date equipment, and operated with all the
benefits of large investments by their owners. They are accredited by four
specialized agencies--the Accreditation Commission of the Association of
Independent Colleges and Schools (AICS), the National Association of Trade and
Technical Schools (NATTS), the National Home Study Council, and the National
Cosmetology Accreditation Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences--in
accordance with the procedures established by the Council of Postsecondary
Of course, the fact that proprietary schools are indeed somebody's investment
sets them apart from other public and private (not-for-profit) schools and
colleges. Because of their for-profit nature, proprietary schools are frequently
held in low esteem and regarded with skepticism by members of the educational
community and sometimes by government policymakers.
WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS TO ARTICULATION?
distinction between proprietary and nonproprietary schools with respect to
concern for making a profit has made many faculty members reluctant to enter
into articulation arrangements with proprietary schools. Besides faculty
reluctance, Lerner (1987) identifies the following as major barriers to
articulation between secondary or postsecondary vocational programs and
proprietary schools: communication breakdown, lack of enthusiasm, inability to
sell the concept at the top level, leadership, staff, elitism, and reluctance to
change curriculum. Although more minor in nature, the following things also
deter the development of articulation agreements: the perceived need to delay
final agreements until every detail is complete, indecision about whether or not
to test incoming students to determine credit, failure to determine competency
levels or grades at the outset, and reluctance to borrow ideas from other
Lerner suggests several strategies for overcoming each of the major barriers.
For example, he recommends arranging regularly scheduled meetings in the various
schools, publishing a newsletter on the articulation effort, and establishing an
inservice meeting to disseminate information about the articulation effort as
ways of circumventing a communication breakdown. Lack of enthusiasm and
inability to sell the concept can be remedied by such means as discussing the
advantages of articulation with students, bringing in consultants, and promoting
occasional dinner meetings. Obtaining a commitment from schools' top-level
administrators, involving top personnel in planning, arranging for teachers and
counselors from the various institutions to get to know one another, and
focusing efforts on a different curriculum if some faculty attitudes cannot be
changed are all ways of overcoming the barrier of leadership, staff, or faculty
reluctance. Elitism and reluctance to change the curriculum can be addressed by
promoting a "student first" concept, mixing administrators and faculty from both
institutions in committee work, ensuring that all parties are sensitive to
"turf" considerations and are prepared to be flexible, seeking input from
advisory committees, redesigning curricula at both ends to be competency based,
and focusing on rearranging sequences rather than content (Lerner 1987, pp.
EXAMPLES OF ARTICULATION
Lerner (1987) has identified three
types of articulation between secondary or postsecondary vocational programs and
proprietary schools. He states that the first type--private occupational schools
that accept secondary vocational program graduates into their educational
offerings--is still quite rare. Noting that community colleges have only
recently begun to recognize the competencies offered in secondary vocational
programs, he states that the practice of granting credit for competencies
mastered in secondary programs has a positive implication for proprietary
schools. Lerner also finds little evidence of the second type of articulation,
that is, cooperation between two or more proprietary schools. The third type of
articulation--arrangements whereby graduates of proprietary schools are accepted
into and continue their education at a community college or 4-year
institution--is apparently gaining in popularity. Lerner notes that both the
AICS and NATTS have had committees working on such articulation arrangements.
Policies providing for the transfer of credit from one institution to another
are by far the most common type of articulation arrangement. The following
credit transfer policies are only a few of those identified by Lerner (1987).
Tampa College, a private baccalaureate degree-granting business school, will
accept a block of 112 quarter credit hours into its technical management
baccalaureate program and will also accept one-half to three-quarters of the
courses taken at United Electronics, a private trade school, on a
course-by-course basis. Strayer College, a baccalaureate degree-granting
proprietary school in Washington, D.C., and Commonwealth College, a proprietary
school in Norfolk, Virginia, have an articulation agreement whereby graduates
from Commonwealth with a 2.0 cumulative grade-point average on a 4.0 scale will
be accepted into Strayer. Yet another type of transfer policy exists within the
ITT network of private occupational (proprietary) schools, which have agreed to
accept transfer students with similar associate degrees from public community
colleges as well as from other proprietary schools.
Examples of articulation agreements between degree-granting proprietary
schools and 4-year colleges or universities include those between Urbana College
(a private nonprofit college) and Bliss College (a proprietary business college)
in Ohio and between the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester,
New York, and the Ohio Institute of Photography (OIP), a proprietary school in
Dayton, Ohio. According to the terms of the latter agreement, transfers from OIP
can complete a bachelor of science degree at RIT in 2 years plus 2 summers.
Besides credit transfer policies, Lerner has identified the following types
of articulation: contracting to offer classes for other institutions, combined
enrollments, shared facilities, enrichment programs, 1 + 1 and 2 + 2 programs,
and pretechnology programs.
Long and his colleagues (1986) describe an articulation arrangement that
Cuyahoga Community College (CCC) in Cleveland, Ohio, has developed with seven
proprietary schools located in Cuyahoga County. The program is noteworthy in
that it combines elements from the 1 + 1 program model with arrangements for
sharing facilities and contracting to offer classes for other institutions. A
career ladder approach was developed whereby CCC accepts students who have
completed a 1-year diploma (the first "1" in the 1+1 model) program at the
proprietary schools. These students then receive 45 quarter credit hours of
advanced standing toward completion of CCC's associate of technical study degree
program. The agreement also provides for CCC to refer students to the
proprietary schools for occupational programs that are not currently offered at
the community college. When this happens, students take all their laboratory and
related courses at a proprietary school and complete their general education
course work at CCC. CCC also teaches certain courses in developmental and
general education within the proprietary school setting on a contractual basis
DEVELOPING ARTICULATION AGREEMENTS
in developing articulation agreements involving their own schools can find
sample articulation agreements, curricula, and an interview protocol sample in
Long et al. (1986). Lerner (1987) also lists 14 action steps for articulation.
These cover all stages of the process of developing an articulation agreement
from needs assessment to selecting one or two program areas in which to begin to
develop written agreements providing secretarial support for and publicizing the
This ERIC Digest is based on the following publication:
Lerner, Max J. ARTICULATION BETWEEN FOR-PROFIT PRIVATE
OCCUPATIONAL SCHOOLS AND SECONDARY VOCATIONAL PROGRAMS/COLLEGES
AND UNIVERSITIES. INFORMATION SERIES NO. 315. Columbus: The National Center
for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1987. (ERIC
Document Reproduction Service No. ED 284 063).
Long, James P.; Warmbrod, Catharine
P.; Faddis, Constance R.; and Lerner, Max J. AVENUES FOR ARTICULATION:
SECONDARY AND POSTSECONDARY PROGRAMS.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT SERIES NO. 259. Columbus: The National Center for
Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, 1986. (ERIC
Document Reproduction Service No. ED 264 445).
Miller, Juliet V., and Imel, Susan. "Some Current Issues in Adult, Career,
and Vocational Education." In TRENDS AND ISSUES IN EDUCATION, 1986, edited by E.
Flaxman. Washington, DC: Council of ERIC Directors, Educational Resources
Information Center, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S.
Department of Education, 1987. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 281
Parnell, Dale. THE NEGLECTED MAJORITY. Washington, DC: The Community College