Vocational education in America is a large and diverse enterprise. Spanning both secondary and postsecondary education, the curriculum offers programs in a wide range of subjects including agricultural science, accounting, word processing, retailing, fashion, respiratory therapy, child care, carpentry, welding, electronics and computer programming. Although vocational education is intended to help prepare students for work, both inside and outside the home, many educators and policymakers believe it has a broader mission: to provide a concrete, understandable context for learning and applying academic skills and concepts.
The vocational curriculum appeals to a diverse group of students. Individuals from all racial–ethnic backgrounds and all levels of academic ability and socioeconomic status take vocational education courses. The majority of secondary students preparing for college have taken at least one vocational course other than typing. Similarly, most postsecondary students enrolled in less-than-4-year institutions routinely participate in vocational education programs.
This book describes vocational education in America as it has evolved as well as examines the patterns of program participation, selected student outcomes, and the characteristics of teachers.