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Vocational Education

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Researchers who disbanded the National Assessment of Vocational Education in the summer of 1989 have recently volunteered to help the U.S. Education Department publish the missing third volume of what the assessment had always planned to be a five-part set.

The final piece of the $5.2- million project is scheduled for publication next month, according to the department.

A top researcher for the assessment acknowledges that the missing volume, detailing enrollments and curriculum in secondary vocational-education programs, would not have been revived if Representative Silvio Conte, Republican of Massachusetts, had not asked at a hearing last spring when the book was to be published.

"It is clear that if the issue had not been raised by the members, nothing would have been done," said John G. Wirt, who directed the assessment and who now works as deputy director of a Labor Department commission on workforce skills.

The volume will expand on information on secondary enrollments and curricula contained in the nave summary issued in July 1989.

The 145-page summary, numbered Vol. 1, outlined all of the nave research. In August 1989, the two-year assessment published a 162-page Vol. 2 on implementation of the 1984 Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act; a 129-page Vol. 4 on postsecondary programs; and a 100-page Vol. 5 on services to handicapped and disadvantaged students.

Education Department officials and Mr. Wirt said Vol. 3 was left in limbo when researchers failed to finish their work before funding ended and the staff disbanded a year ago. The department is now relying on former nave staff members to complete the report.

Preliminary nave findings were a leading reason the House Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education Subcommittee drastically revamped the Perkins Act in its reauthorization bill drafted in April 1989.

The Senate followed suit, leading to July's conference agreement on HR 7, which emphasizes local program improvement and sets minimum grant amounts.

The bill would also require that the Education Department's office of educational research and improvement administer a national assessment to scrutinize HR 7's reforms and issue an evaluation by July 1, 1994.

Anticipating passage of the Perkins Act reauthorization bill, the Education Department has scheduled four regional hearings on new vocational-education regulations.

The meetings will begin Oct. 30-31 in Philadelphia and continue on Nov. 5-6 in Atlanta, Nov. 7-8 in San Francisco, and Nov. 14-15 in Kansas City.--lh

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