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Evaluation Process Developed for Industrial-Arts Programs

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Copyright 1982 National standards for evaluating and upgrading industrial-arts programs in the nation's junior and senior high schools--one component of a recently completed three-year research project--may not win quick acceptance by the states because they are not federally mandated, according to the project's director.

William E. Dugger Jr., chairman of the industrial-arts program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and director of the $608,000 federally sponsored study of industrial-arts programs, said state education officials are being urged to adopt the new standards, but if they do, it will have to be on a voluntary basis. "Under the present situation [in Washington]," Mr. Dugger said, "I don't think the standards will be mandated."

He also expressed concern that without some sort of public support for what they are doing, industrial-arts educators will not be able to solve the problem of growing teacher shortages in the field, a phenomenon documented by statistics in the new study.

According to the project's national survey, there are currently about 61,687 industrial-arts teachers nationwide for an estimated seven million junior and senior high-school students who are enrolled in industrial-arts programs, a teacher-student ratio of about 1 to 113.

Increased Vacancies

During the 1976-77 school year, the 40 states responding to the survey together reported 812 teacher vacancies in the industrial arts. Four years later, during the 1979-80 school year, the number of vacancies in 43 states reporting had increased by 366 to a total of 1,178.

That figure, said Mr. Dugger, does not include positions that were not filled because of resignations, retirements, or deaths; nor does it account for programs that were discontinued because school administrators could not recruit certified industrial-arts teachers.

The project, "Standards for Industrial Arts Programs," was begun in October 1978 at Virginia Tech under contract with the Education Department (ed). It was one of three research projects of "national significance" funded through the 1976 Amendment to the Vocational Education Act. That amendment also empowered the states to support their industrial-arts programs with federal vocational-education funds.

Muriel Tapman of the Education Department's Office of Vocational and Adult Education said the agency is "pleased with the study" but noted that it is the department's position to assist the states and "not to tell them what to do."

She also said it is the responsibility of the professional organizations to put standards in place because ed does not have "that kind of money."

More than 400 industrial-arts teachers, state and local supervisors, teacher-educators, and consultants were involved in the development of the standards and the collection of statistical data on teachers, students, and programs, a process that was completed last November. The last comprehensive statis-tics on industrial-arts programs, were collected during the 1962-63 school year.

Based on the data they amassed, project participants worked out an extensive list of statements describing the characteristics of industrial-arts programs and subject matter. In assessing how each characteristic matches what exists in their individual schools, educators can develop a profile showing whether their programs rank above or below a broad national standard.

Although more recent data than the 1962-63 findings existed at the time the project began, researchers found them to be fragmented, according to Mr. Dugger.

"The need for a set of thoroughly researched and validated standards for industrial-arts programs was evident," Mr. Dugger said. "Such standards, if accepted and applied throughout the profession, could do a great deal to promote cohesiveness and interaction among members of the profession and to enhance and accelerate further development of industrial-arts-education philosophies and programs in the total school curriculum."

Training Endangered

Industrial-arts educators have been concerned over the increasing shortage of industrial-arts teachers, a situation they say has been created by the relatively low salaries paid in teaching compared with those offered in private industry. The teacher shortage, according to some educators, threatens to imperil the schools' mission to provide effective pre-vocational training for junior and senior high-school students.

Moreover, these educators are uncertain that the existing industrial-arts curriculum accurately reflects the current climate of change in industry and technology.

"Like any area that tries to teach students about industry and tech-nology, there are going to be problems keeping pace with the rapid innovations," Mr. Dugger said.

The primary objectives of his project, according to Mr. Dugger, have been "to develop standards and guidelines for the improvement of industrial arts programs"; to collect statistics on industrial arts programs and student-organization activities; and "to familiarize, publicize, and demonstrate the standards developed" for such programs. According to Mr. Dugger, the Education Department is unable to provide support for the third part of the project.

Based on a sampling of 2,235 public-school principals and industrial-arts teachers, the project identified two major roles of the industrial-arts programs in the public schools. The primary purpose, Mr. Dugger said, is to help students attain skills in the use of tools and machines. A secondary role, he said, is to help students make informed occupation-al choices and "discover and develop their creative talents."

Mr. Dugger noted that the majority of educators responding to the survey cited the content and the staffs of their industrial-arts programs as the two primary strengths of their programs. They reported insufficient funding and obsolete industrial-arts facilities as the two main weaknesses of their programs.

In spite of the concerns of industrial-arts educators, Mr. Dugger said his research produced some encouraging information. For instance, at least 15,135 middle schools and junior- and senior-high schools, representing 79 percent of all such schools, offer their students an industrial-arts program.

"We would hope the industrial-arts standards would help school administrators improve the quality of the education their students receive," Mr. Dugger added.

The American Industrial Arts Association (aiaa), supports the newly developed standards and has planned five "pay-as-you-go" regional workshops to promote the standards and to advise industrial-arts supervisors and teachers on how the standards should be used. The workshops will be conducted during January and February in Colorado, California, Illinois, Texas, and Georgia.

Kendall N. Starkweather, aiaa's executive director, said federal officials' decision not to fund the final phase of the project means that the standards' impact will be lessened. He said his organization's ability to follow through on implementing the standards also will be hampered by the lack of federal involvement in their promotion among the states.

The standards contain 235 individual statements on program philosophy, instruction, student population served, instructional staff, administration and supervision, support systems, instructional strategies, health and safety, public relations, and evaluation.

These ten program topics are also divided into sub-topics.

Three "resource guides" that offer suggestions for achieving sexual equality in industrial-arts programs, meeting the needs of handicapped students, and promoting local chapters of the American Industrial Arts Student Association have also been developed for use in conjunction with the standards.

"We have had gross deficiencies in terms of sex equity in industrial-arts programs," Mr. Dugger explained. He added that they have not adequately addressed the needs of handicapped students.

Mr. Starkweather agreed that more attention needs to be given to recruiting both women teachers and students into industrial-arts programs. Currently, only 1 percent of all industrial-arts teachers are women. "We have known for a long time that these problems exist," he said. "The study offers us documented proof."

For additional information on the exact dates and locations of the workshops on implementing the standards, contact the American Industrial Arts Association, 1914 Association Dr., Reston, Va., (703) 860-2100.

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