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.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.
Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.