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Vocational-Ed. Assessment To Call For State Reform Plans

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Washington--A forthcoming assessment of vocational education will call for federal legislation to "encourage" states to develop ambitious new plans for upgrading such instruction, the project's director said last week.

John Wirt, director of the National Assessment of Vocational Education, said nave's final report would also recommend that one-fifth of federal aid for vocational instruction go toward establishing tougher state standards for programs.

That proposal would go beyond similar provisions in the reauthorization bill for vocational education passed by the House this month.

Mr. Wirt offered a preview of the Congressionally mandated report at a meeting here of the National Con4ference of State Legislatures.

In advocating the adoption of state reform plans for vocational study, he said, "we don't have in mind the usual state planning process."

Such plans, he said, should encompass the following broad objectives:

Improving students' acquisition of academic skills by integrating instruction in basic skills and vocational subjects;

Upgrading the caliber of the employment skills provided to students;

Strengthening the quality of programs that now do not provide adequate training;

Ensuring greater continuity between secondary and postsecondary training; and

Spurring innovation in the vocational system.

The nave report, scheduled to be released this month, will also encourage the development of performance measures and outcome standards for vocational-education programs, Mr. Wirt said.

He noted that the House reauthorization bill would require states to establish such standards, but would earmark a smaller share of federal aid for that purpose than the nave report will recommend.

The report, he said, will urge that 20 percent of a state's grant for vocational education go toward the development of standards; 70 percent would go directly to school districts, while the other 10 percent would fund statewide demonstration projects.

In contrast, the House bill would direct 80 percent of each state's grant to local districts. The remaining 20 percent would cover a wide range of activities, including administrative costs, the development of performance standards, and statewide programs for displaced homemakers and the incarcerated.--rrw

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