Students study auto mechanics at Worcester Technical High School in Massachusetts. Photo: U.S. Department of Education
A little bit of Vocational education doesn’t help students, but those who take advanced vocational classes and choose a specialty see a “wage premium” as adults, concludes a study by Daniel Kreisman, assistant professor of economics at Georgia State and director of CTEx, and Kevin Stange, associate professor of public policy at the University of Michigan.
Low achievers are more likely to take an entry-level vocational course, the study found. They are less likely to enroll in college, but there’s no impact on college graduation rates compared to similar students. “Vocational courses may pull students out of college who are the least likely to graduate if they enroll,” Kreisman and Stange write.
Advanced vocational courses draw a mix of strong and weak students. The study found no effect on college enrollment. However, for those who enroll in college, “each additional course credit from an advanced vocational class increases their chances of graduating by nearly 2 percentage points.”
Students who specialize in one vocational area do the best, write Kreisman and Stange. Offering career “pathways” is “smart policy.”
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