Assessing Postsecondary Vocational-Technical Outcomes: What are the Alternatives?

D. D. Bragg

For many years evaluation of vocational-technical education has been influenced by federal policy, leading to the traditional use of outcomes such as program completion and job placement. Current reforms emphasize the need for accountability and focus more attention on alternative assessment methods. This study examines the assessment practices of two-year postsecondary institutions. Bragg finds that institutions considered innovative in their assessment practices measure a wide variety of outcomes, including outcomes not usually associated with vocational-technical education, such as transfer success. Newer alternative methods such as portfolios, peer assessments, and capstone (senior) projects are increasingly used. Bragg recommends that assessment of vocational-technical programs be geared more closely to the rest of the postsecondary curriculum. She stresses the complexity of assessment and outcomes and encourages policy makers to respect this complexity and to value local solutions.

MDS-910 / November 1996

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