Voc ed and dropouts -- what statistics show

A National Institute of Education-sponsored study, "Vocational Education and Social Mobility: A Study of Public and Proprietary School Dropouts and Graduates ," asked the following two questions: Are proprietary schools, driven by the profit motive, able to hold their students to graduation better than public schools? Who are the dropouts and what difference does completing a vocational program make, or do graduates get better jobs and earn more than dropouts?

* Dropouts and students who remain in school for abnormally long times are the least advantaged students in both public and proprietary schools.

* Men and women who dropped out of upper-level vocational programs got similar jobs as graduates.

* Women who dropped out of lower-level vocational programs were far less likely to get jobs for which they trained than graduates.

* Dropping out of a vocational school had little influence on students' earnings, which are more a function of their background and characteristics.

* Proprietary schools train students for entry-level employment more efficiently than public schools.

It drew the following conclusions:

* Vocational education is not an effective way to equalize opportunity.

* Proprietary schools can provide vocational education more efficiently than public schools.

* The private sector should have an expanded role in providing entry-level job training.

Most proprietary schools included only job-related material in their curriculum, shortened their courses to absolute minimums, and put a high priority on job placement in local job markets.

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