Separate Tables: Academic and Vocational Education Reforms in Traditional, Comprehensive High Schools

N. A. Prestine

Perhaps nowhere can the rift between academic and vocational secondary education be viewed in starker relief than in the reform movements associated with each. The case studies in this report focus on high schools engaged in more than one reform: the academically oriented Coalition of Essential Schools, and the more vocational Tech Prep approach. While there has been a good deal of research on essential school initiatives and changes in vocational education, what happens when these two movements are implemented in tandem has drawn little attention until now. This report found that high schools involved with both initiatives can turn into arenas for clashing ideologies and interests that end up emphasizing differences rather than looking for commonalities. As a result, and because of vocational education's secondary status in many traditional, comprehensive high schools, reforms like Tech Prep may take a back seat to more academic, college-oriented approaches.

MDS-1076 / August 1998

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