High School Restructuring and Vocational Reform: The Question of "Fit" in Two Schools

J. W. Little, N. Erbstein, L. Walker

How do vocational education reforms fit with other secondary school reforms? Where do the various reforms reinforce each other, and where does vocational education reform get treated as the second-class citizen? The authors use three criteria of "fit" to examine two restructuring high schools: (1) Are the schools questioning society's long-standing ambivalence towards vocational education? (2) Do the schools readily embrace the integration of academic and vocational learning? and (3) Do the schools enable teachers to bridge the two worlds of academic and vocational teaching? The authors suggest that the success of vocational education reform rests on whether work preparation is seen as a goal for all high school students, and on whether schools have the capacity to challenge assumptions of what high school should entail. Educators trying to teach in the midst of several reform initiatives will find this study an aid to thinking deeply and imaginatively about how the question of "fit" presents a new opportunity to further the goal of "getting kids--all kids--to confront where they're going from here."

MDS-812 / August 1996

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