I would like to make a few comments on the "how to" aspects of improving
the numbers of students in nontraditional secondary courses.
I recently served on the Michigan Review Committee for our state's Five
Year Plan for the Carl Perkins Voc. Ed. Act. We were required to set a
target for the plan for the increases we will make in non-traditional
students during the period. The proposed figure was a 1% increase.
I did a little calculating because I saw this target would do practically
nothing to increase the enrollment of nontraditional students, much less
toward fulfilling the demand for students in these fields. At the time,
our most recent data were Voc Tech enrollments for 1997-98.
I decided to take a little different approach, since the increase in
enrollments is really likely to be affected by the teachers, not a
vocational coordinator from central administration (forgive me, but we have
seen very little results from our past approaches.) I took each vocational
course, by CIP code, and calculated what would happen if each instructor
recruited one additional non-traditional student. (The absurdity of a goal
of 1% is that it requires no one to do anything since in most cases a state
wide goal of 1% doesn't even represent a whole person per classroom!)
Overall, I found that if each teacher recruited one new nontraditional
student, overall enrollments would improve by 4% - reversing a trend of
declining enrollments that has been going on for several years. More
importantly, the plan seemed doable. Here are some examples by courses:
In Michigan's Electrical and Electronic Repair classes (CIP 47.01) there
were 1,658 males and 175 females enrolled, or 9.5%. A 5% increase in
enrollments would mean an additional 9 girls to be recruited statewide, but
there are 89 instructors and if each recruited one whole person (and
traditional enrollments remained the same), that would represent an
increase of females to 13.7% and a 4.2% increase in overall enrollment.
In Michigan's Drafting classes (CIP 48.0101) there were 9,945 males and 616
females enrolled, or 5.8%. A 5% increase in female enrollments would mean
an additional 31 girls to be recruited, but there are 96 instructors and if
each recruited one whole person (and traditional enrollments remained the
same), that would represent an increase of females to 6.7% of the total and
a .9% increase in overall enrollment.
In Michigan's Child and Adult Care Services classes (CIP 20.0299) there
were 2129 females and 90 males enrolled, or 4.1%. A 5% increase in
enrollments would mean an additional 5 boys to be recruited, but there are
120 instructors and if each recruited one whole person (and traditional
enrollments remained the same), that would represent an increase of males
to 9% and a 4.9% increase in overall enrollment.
The committee originally wasn't very supportive of raising the 1% target,
but supported it after they saw the analysis. But, the Department of Ed.,
did not change it.
Actually, I think it is not unreasonable to ask instructors to identify at
least two more nontraditional students beyond their current enrollments
because in some cases we would be putting one girl, or one boy in a class,
and they would do better if they had two or more. I would use the money to
provide whatever is needed to recruit the actual number of students needed
to insure the target of one additional non-traditional completer per
teacher is reached (i.e., released time for the instructor to carry out the
activities needed to identify and speak to potential students.)
I do wonder how many legislators have ever looked at this section of the
legislation from this perspective.
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