Skip Navigation
Public Secondary School Teacher Survey on Vocational Education
NCES: 94409
February 1994


In the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-392), Congress called for upgrading the academic and occupational competencies obtained by students when participating in vocational education. This Act was meant to ensure equal educational opportunities for all students and to develop the academic and occupational competencies needed to work in a technologically advanced marketplace, thereby making the United States more competitive in the world economy. The legislation also mandated an assessment of vocational education programs. This report presents the results of a survey of public secondary school teachers undertaken as a separate but supporting study requested by the National Assessment of Vocational Education. It was conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics for the Office of Research, Office of Educational Research and improvement, using the Fast Response Survey System (FRSS).

The National Assessment of Vocational Education is charged with evaluating the current status of vocational education by collecting information from a variety of sources, including new and extant surveys, case studies, and examinations of course materials. Some information needed for this assessment was believed to be best provided by vocational teachers themselves. Four issues in particular became the focus of the Fast Response National Assessment of Vocational Education Teacher Survey conducted in the fall of 1992. Each of these was directly related to goals of the Perkins Act.

First, the Perkins Act calls for an assessment of the preparation and qualifications of vocational teachers. The survey obtained supporting information about public secondary school vocational teachers, including teaching experience, educational attainment, nonteaching work experience, and whether vocational teachers were likely to be teaching in the subject for which they had prepared.

Another measure to upgrade vocational education and improve the skills of vocational students described in the Perkins Act is the integration of academic and vocational Curricula. This goal ensures that vocational students develop the academic skills needed in an increasingly demanding and technologically advanced marketplace. Thus, the FRSS survey obtained information about the amount of time spent on various academic and occupational subject matter, Curriculum coordination, evidence of team teaching, and vocational teachers" judgments about their own preparedness to teach academic subject matter.

A third set of measures that directly relate to the National Assessment were included in the survey. These measures obtain information about activities and teaching methods employed in the classroom, the degree to which vocational teachers promote student learning through homework and testing, and the degree to which teachers emphasize and reinforce students" academic skills. Detailed, representative information on these issues can perhaps be best obtained from vocational instructors, whose teaching practices determine the content and academic rigor of vocational courses.

Finally, the survey asked vocational teachers to indicate what they perceived to be problems in the vocational education programs in their schools.

This report presents data obtained from public secondary school vocational education teachers and a comparison sample of academic teachers. Information provided by vocational teachers was analyzed along with that provided by academic subject teachers who served as a benchmark for comparative purposes. Comparisons are also made between vocational courses in vocational high schools and vocational courses offered in comprehensive high schools.

Data have been weighted to national estimates of vocational and academic teachers teaching in public secondary schools with 11th and 12th grades (Table 1). Only those teachers who were teaching at the same school when the study was conducted (fall 1992) as when the sample of teachers was selected (spring 1992) were included in the study. All statements of comparison made in this report have been tested for significance through chi-square tests or t-tests adjusted for multiple comparisons using the Bonferroni adjustment and are significant at the .05 level or better.