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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.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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