Vocational Courses in High School Term Paper

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(Stasz, and Bodilly, 2004)

In the press release by Mike Bowler and David Thomas (2005), High School Students Using Dual Enrollment Programs to Earn College Credits, New Reports Say. According to this report, the federal budget proposes to increase access to "dual enrollment" programs for at-risk students. Out of the approximately 2,050 institutions with dual enrollment programs, almost 110 institutions, or 5% (about 2% of all institutions) offered dual enrollment programs specifically aimed toward high school students "at risk" for failing academically. Two new reports by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics also confirm that high school students currently take advantage of programs to earn college credits. The High School Initiative, designed to help prepare high school students to graduate with skills needed to succeed, permits states and districts to utilize funding for:

individual performance plans, dropout prevention efforts, demanding vocational and technical courses, college awareness and more projects.

Perkins Bill

Sean Cavanagh (2006) reports in Perkins Bill is Approved by Congress that career and technical education programs will begin to experience new pressures to confirm they are adhering to rigorous academic standards, while guiding high school students through a lineup of courses to effectively prepares them for college and/or the workplace. These stipulations are under a bill approved by Congress. "The reauthorization of the federal law known as the Perkins Act - dealing with what traditionally has been called vocational education - will not subject state and local programs to the stricter demands and penalties of the No Child Left Behind Act, however. Critics in some quarters, including the White House, have said that such programs should be held to much tougher standards than they currently face." (Cavanagh, 2006) Under the rules of the 4-1/2-year-old No Child Left Behind law, the measure requires career-oriented programs receiving federal funds to more consistently report test scores and graduation rates. It also stipulates that states more actively "spell out specific sequences of core academic and technical classes that students should follow from grade to grade." (Cavanagh, 2006)

Minority Similarities and Differences in the journal article, What Do They Want in Life?: The Life Goals of a Multi-Ethnic, Multi-Generational Sample of High School Seniors, Esther S. Chang, Chuansheng Chen, Ellen Greenberger, David Dooley, and Jutta Heckhausen (2006) address:

adolescent life goals and their potential role in the emergence of educational and occupational disparities between different ethnic groups. A recent analysis of U.S. Census data by the Population Reference Bureau (2000) confirmed that significant educational and occupational disparities persist across ethnic groups. A higher proportion of Whites and Asians hold higher status jobs and college degrees compared to African-American and Hispanic adults. In 1998, for example, 33% of Whites and 34% of Asian-Americans held managerial and professional white-collar jobs compared to 20% of African-Americans and 15% of Hispanics. In contrast, 20% of African-Americans and 22% of Hispanics worked as semi-or unskilled workers compared to 12% of Whites and 11% of Asians. Similarly, 28% of Whites and 44% of Asian and Pacific Islanders hold a bachelor's degree, compared to only 17% of Blacks and 11% of Hispanics. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002, cited by Chan, Chen, Greenberger, Dooley, and Heckhausen, 2006)

Intervention programs would do well to help minority youths translate their high educational aspirations into concrete actions," Chan, Chen, Greenberger, Dooley, and Heckhausen (2006) contend. From their study of a sample of graduating high school seniors, the authors find that in regard to personal future plans, multi-ethnic, multi-generational differ very little from each other. In this study, minority adolescents, albeit, reportedly have higher educational and occupational aspirations than their White peers. In the absence of programs to provide increased funding for higher education for these (and other) minority groups, however, the authors argue, interventions aimed at the individual will most likely not be sufficient. (Chang, Chen, Greenberger, Dooley & Heckhausen, 2006)

Reasons Students Drop Out of High School in the journal article, Are Students Ready for College? What Student Engagement Data Say; How Realistic Are High School Students' Educational Aspirations? Reviewing the Findings of the High School Survey of Student Engagement, Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Kuh Note a Troubling Mismatch between the Academic Habits of Many High School Students and What Will Be Expected of Them in College, Martha Mccarthy and George D. Kuh (2006) report that employers and university faculty members contend the senior year in high school to be an educational wasteland. Educators and employers "lament that high school graduates do not have the knowledge, academic skills, and practical competencies to perform adequately in college or work environments. " (Conley, 2001,pp. 26-41, cited by Mccarthy & Kuh, 2006, p. 664)

Part of the reasons students drop out of high school is attributed to the fact they do not develop skills vital to succeed in school, basic skills, for example, such as, spelling, writing, and basic math computation. In addition, a number of students attending college are not adequately prepared. Mccarthy and Kuh (2006, p. 664) stress it is vital to ensure students take the right courses in high school.

Helping Students Prepare for Life

In the magazine article, Intelligent Redesign: Let's Reframe the Discussion on High School Reform by First Reaching a Consensus on What High Schools Are Supposed to Do, Paul D. Houston (2006) notes that high schools serve as prep schools for a student's later life and as a place for students to prepare for adulthood. Vocational courses help students prepare for a future job. "21st-century schools," according to Houston (2006), not only provide vocational focused on student's future working lives, but also produce positive results as they are academically rigorous. These schools engage students and offer hands-on programs. One example Houston (2006) describes involves students constructing a "battlebot," a robot used in gaming to battle other robots. Some may consider the fun work in these vocational courses frivolous, however, what actually happens in the class is that students learn and begin to understand about "metallurgy, structures, engines, insulation and a hundred other difficult concepts." (Houston, 2006) Students also learn that work on a project, like work in a vocation, can be hard, yet enjoyable.

Discrepancy in Matching Students' Employment Opportunities "Maintaining the Class": Teachers in the New High Schools of the Banlieues, a French journal article by Frederic Viguier (2006), reports that even though an unspoken revolution brought 70% of a generation to the baccalaureat level during the past twenty years (up from 33% in 1986), students were not ensured they would obtain corresponding job opportunities. Viguier (2006) explores "this discrepancy and its contribution to the social and political construction of the 'probleme des banlieues'."

Minority Students Relationship to School Outcomes

In the journal article, School Characteristics Related to High School Dropout Rates, Christine a. Christle, Kristine Jolivette, and Nelso C. Michael (2007) cite Leone et al. (2003) to contend that the variable of student ethnicity, similar to poverty, depicts a strong historical relationship to school outcomes. In the study Christle, Jolivette and Michael (2007) complete, they relate the ethnic background of the student body to the dropout rate, noting: "the higher the dropout rates, the lower the percentage of White students."

The Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University, Balfanz & Legters (2004, cited by Christle, Jolivette and Michael, 2007) report, found that across the United States, in a school where a majority of minority students attend, the school is five times more likely to possess weak promoting power than a majority White school. The report also notes that 46% of Black and 39% of Hispanic students attend schools where graduation does not constitute the norm.

Students who drop out of high school, Christle, Jolivette and Michael (2007) find, "are more likely to be unemployed, to earn less than those who graduate, to be on public assistance, and to end up in prison." The authors utilized both quantitative and qualitative procedures to examine dropout rates in Kentucky high schools and found that a number of school characteristics differentially relate to dropout rates, including:

a) school demographics, environment, policies, and disciplinary procedures;

b) classroom environment and instruction;

administrator characteristics, philosophies, attitudes, and behaviors;

d) staff characteristics, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors; and e) student characteristics and behaviors.

In a number or areas, the authors also note, schools which report low dropout rates differed considerably from schools which report high dropout rates. In addition to supporting previous school dropout literature, findings of this study offer a number of new insights. When students drop out of school, Christle, Jolivette and Michael (2007) insist, the action does not stem from impulse, but instead evolves from a cumulative process which includes unsuccessful…

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