Beyond Vocational Education Standards and Measures

Strengthening Local Accountability Systems for Program Improvement

by Brian M. Stecher, Lawrence M. Hanser

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The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act Amendments of 1990 (Perkins II) mandate significant changes in federal vocational education policy. Among these is the introduction of an outcome-based accountability system in which states have responsibility for adopting standards and measures of performance but local programs are responsible for using outcome data for program improvement. This study examined vocational education accountability at the local level to provide information to improve the implementation of Perkins II accountability provisions. The study found that local accountability systems already exist in many vocational programs, and that they can be tools for program improvement. While these systems should easily accommodate many of the responsibilities envisioned by Perkins II, they may have difficulty with others. The authors suggest ways states and local programs can improve the functioning of local accountability systems, and they recommend changes in federal vocational education policy to further the goals of program improvement that motivated Perkins II.

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