Are vocational training programs effective?

March 14, 2002, midnight | By Alex Piazza | 18 years, 10 months ago

Alex Piazza says YES: Real world training is beneficial

The Thomas Edison High School of Technology's brand of vocational training should be made more widely available to MCPS students because it provides individuals with job-training and contributes to a well-rounded education. Whether students advance to college or not, program graduates are better prepared for life after high school and, consequently, are more likely to open doors for themselves following graduation.

Some students are more career-oriented than others because they have already developed interests in a specific field. Vocational training courses help these students build on their skills and satisfy their interests, thereby motivating them to excel. In addition, vocational training provides a framework for decisions about college majors or possible careers.

Approximately 74 percent of all Edison program graduates move on to college after high school. The program can actually improve a student's chance of being accepted to his or her preferred college. Technology-oriented colleges look favorably upon vocational courses offered in the Edison program such as electronics engineering and network operations and programming, according to Edison counselor Julie Griffin. In addition, vocational courses have been shown to have a positive effect on students' academic careers; according to an analysis conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, career-development course enrollment is associated with lower dropout rates.

Edison program participants can also receive a minimum of 15 community service hours per semester, advanced technology credits and course credits through Montgomery College. Even though the program occupies half of the school day, the majority of vocational trainees are able to meet all credit requirements for high school graduation.

Since a significant number of MCPS students are unable to attend college because of financial constraints or family situations, the Edison program provides post-graduation job options by offering students extensive training in a specific professional field.

The majority of policy makers look critically at the vocational program, perceiving its courses as easy electives as opposed to more challenging courses. In fact, vocational courses have proven to be just the opposite for some students.

Blair senior Sonia Mohepath, a graduate of the medical careers program and a current student of Edison's biotechnology program, feels that the courses are academically demanding and have allowed her to find her niche. "[The Edison program] has challenged me and helped me figure out what I really want to do in life," she explains. "I love it."

Despite negative stereotypes that undermine the program's perceived value, the Edison school has been successful in helping many students excel academically and professionally.

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Alex Piazza. Alex Piazza is a junior page editor for Silver Chips, one of the better newspapers of the world. While participating in the CAP program, he also plays for the varsity soccer team and plays in an out-of-school band, playing an eclectic mix of styles. Alex … More »

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