Magazine article Techniques

Statistical Snapshot

Magazine article Techniques

Statistical Snapshot

Article excerpt

What do we know about today's career and technical education students? Here are some key findings from Vocational Education in the United States: Toward the Year 2000, the U.S. Department of Education's latest report on enrollment statistics and other career tech trends. The survey, updated every five years, is the nation's most comprehensive accounting of participation in vocational education.


Vo-tech is widespread in high schools, but few students wade more than ankle-deep into the course offerings. In 1994, 97 percent of public high school graduates completed at least one vocational course, and 25 percent finished three or more courses in a single occupational program. The Education Department dubs the latter "vocational concentrators."

Changing Economy

Reflecting shifts in the U.S. economy, enrollment in service programs (such as health care, food services and child care) and in technology and communications programs increased relatively between 1982 and 1994, while enrollment in the trades dropped. Also, enrollment rose relatively in agriculture and marketing but fell in business.

Holding Steady?

From 1982 to 1994, high school students completed fewer vocational credits, and the percentage of vocational concentrators (students completing three or more courses in a single occupational program) also declined. Preliminary data for 1998 indicate that these trends are leveling off.

Average number of vocational credits earned


Percentage of high school graduates concentrating in vocational programs


Ground in the Basics

The percentage of vocational concentrators completing the New Basics core academic standards in high school (four years of English and three years each of math, science and social studies) increased sixfold between 1982 and 1994. Preliminary data for 1998 indicate a further increase.

Vocational concentrators meeting New Basics core academic standards


Gender Gap, Part 1

In 1994, male students were more likely than female students to take occupational courses--three on average, compared with two and a half for girls. Boys took more agriculture and trade/industry courses, while girls took more courses in business, child care, health care, marketing and personal services.

Average number of credits earned by high school graduates in occupational programs


College Bound

In 1992, 55 percent of vocational concentrators enrolled in a postsecondary institution within two years of high school graduation, up from 42 percent a decade earlier.


Where They Enrolled


Youth at Work

Four out of five vocational concentrators graduating from high school in 1992 were working in December 1993. Among all 1992 graduates who enrolled in college, vocational concentrators were more likely than their college-prep peers to also work while enrolled (44 percent versus 17 percent).


Major Force

In 1996, about half of subbaccalaureate(*) students taking for-credit courses at a postsecondary institution declared a vocational major. That's a healthy portion, though it represents a 5 percent decline since 1990.

Percentage of students majoring in various fields in 1996


(*) Postsecondary students pursuing less than a bachelor's degree. …

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