Standards that accurately reflect the skills students will need in the work world, says a new report, must move concurrently toward two goals: They must strive for the short-term goal of making clear to schools and employers what job skills students need to know and the long-term aim of fitting into broader education reforms.
"While both sets of goals are important," it says, "the nature and governance of skill-standards systems designed to meet the long-term goals may differ sharply from systems focused on the short-term goals."
The document, "Making Sense of Industry-Based Skill Standards," is one of three reports on different aspects of vocational education recently released by the Berkeley, Calif.-based National Center for Research in Vocational Education.
The skills-standards report clarifies the trade-offs needed to achieve the two goals and evaluates the extent to which existing standards initiatives balance the goals.
The report also contains a series of recommendations for strengthening pilot skills-standards projects.
Copies of the report, publication number MDS-777, are $7 each.
A second report by the center, "Preparing Teachers To Successfully Integrate Vocational and Academic Education: A Case Study Approach," examines 46 programs in which vocational and academic teachers, administrators, and counselors have successfully combined academic preparation with vocational education.
The case studies are arranged by four "functional themes": cooperative efforts, curriculum strategies, instructional strategies, and administrative practices.
Copies of the teacher preparation document, MDS-780, cost $12.50 each.
Finally, "Evaluating Job Training Programs in the United States: Evidence and Explanations" argues that, overall, job-training programs have been only marginally successful in improving individual earnings and employment.
The document goes on to present a vision for how such programs could be restructured to become more successful. Job-training programs, the report argues, are too often unconnected to other educational programs.
Copies of the document, MDS-1047, cost $12 each.
The three reports can be ordered from the NCRVE Materials Distribution Service, 46 Horrabin Hall, Macomb, Ill. 61455; (800) 637-7652. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.