Who Gets What and Why

Curriculum Decisionmaking at Three Comprehensive High Schools

Published in: Report no. MDS-028 (Berkeley, CA : National Center for Research in Vocational Education, June 1990)

Posted on RAND.org on June 01, 1990

by Molly Selvin, Jeannie Oakes, Sharon E. Hare, Kimberly Ramsey, Diane Schoeff

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This Note documents work conducted during the first year of a two-year investigation of curriculum decisionmaking--particularly with respect to vocational education--in comprehensive high schools. The Note presents case studies of three high schools, undertaken to learn how high school administrators, teachers, counselors, and students characterize the academic and vocational course offerings and the student placement and counseling processes at their schools. It examines how and why schools differ in the range of courses and other vocational opportunities they offer, the process by which students are placed in those courses, and the expectations the staff holds for its students. The findings suggest that it is worth investigating an approach to high school reform that would involve a fundamental reconstruction of the high school curriculum, one that blurs the distinction between "academic" and "vocational" subjects.

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