As Teachers Tell It: Implementing All Aspects Of The Industry: The Case Studies

Publication October 1996

The reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Act (Perkins II), and most recently the School-to-Work Opportunities Act (STWOA), give schools the opportunity to reverse the seventy-year gulf between vocational and academic education created by the Smith Hughes Act in 1917. Perkins II and STWOA call for a new design of education centered around four categories of integration. First, they require the integration of vocational and academic education. Second, they call for integration among educational institutions through Tech Prep and other programs. Third, they call for a fusion of school and work experiences through key connecting activities. And fourth, they advocate that all students be provided with “strong experience and understanding of all aspects of the industry” (i.e., planning; management; finances; technical and production skills; underlying principles of technology; labor and community issues; and health, safety, and environmental issues).

An All Aspects of the Industry (AAI) approach creates a framework for schools to redesign their programs around broadly conceived, interdisciplinary, industry-focused programs. With an AAI framework, schools can prepare students for a range of workplace roles and for participation in high-performance work organizations, where front-line workers take part in management decisions. Hence, in addition to technical skills, students learn skills that are easily transferred to other industries such as planning skills. The success of an AAI approach depends on the input and influence of a broad stakeholder group, including employers, labor, environmentalists, and community residents.

Developing these kinds of programs can have important benefits for students because they provide (1) an enriched environment in which vocational and academic integration can occur; (2) skills and experiences needed for a variety of workplace tasks and roles, including entrepreneurship and management; (3) school-to-work transition; (4) community development activities through collaboration with economic development activities; (5) a rich platform for analysis, problem solving, and utilization skills in reading, writing, math, science, and social sciences; and (6) exploration of a particular field in-depth, along with transferable skills which expand opportunities to do other things.

Despite these merits, in our work with schools around the nation, we found an absence of implementation of the AAI clause in school-to-work transition programs such as youth apprenticeship, Tech Prep, integration, and work-based learning. For this reason, the National Center for Research in Vocational Education (NCRVE), in collaboration with The Center for Law and Education; Jobs for the Future; The Learning Research and Development Center; and team members from one of each of these organization’s networking schools: South Division High School, Rindge School of Technical Arts, Oakland Technical High School, and Pennsylvania Youth Apprenticeship Program was awarded a grant by the Joyce Foundation to study the AAI clause.

We conducted a series of workshops involving organizational representatives and school team members, visited schools, and had many complicated discussions. The purpose of our work was

  • to provide partnership members the opportunity to learn from one another about how AAI fits into their school-to-work reform approach, and disseminate this information to teacher networks, administrators, and policymakers.
  • to collaborate with industry representatives, AAI specialists, and teachers to develop ways in which AAI may be incorporated within a context of vocational and academic integration; collaborative, student-centered learning; and project-centered instruction.
  • to identify the primary obstacles, challenges, and issues that different sites face in developing their respective programs.
  • to clarify the primary areas of agreement and disagreement among participants as to what AAI means.

We have shared our thinking about the use of AAI as a focus for school restructuring in a teleconference and now here in this report. Because of the complex nature of AAI, we felt case studies written by the implementers themselves would best capture our collective lessons in action. In addition, the more we explored AAI, the more we realized that, as a reform vision, it had quite a bit in common with the vision and implementation of other reform agendas. Thus, this report also features insights about the implementation of complex reforms (e.g., Coalition of Essential Schools, Foxfire) as told by educators in complementary reform movements.

Andrew, E. N. (Ed.). (1996, October). As teachers tell it: Implementing all aspects of the industry – the case studies. Berkeley, CA: National Center for Research in Vocational Education.

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