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Evaluation of factors that contribute to improving academic achievement of career and technical education students in Rhode Island

Anthony J Marsella, Johnson & Wales University


The primary purpose of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of career and technical education in Rhode Island utilizing Program Approval Process: Standards, Instruments, and Protocols. The process establishes standards for quality career and technical education. The population surveyed provided data on Standard Two: Curriculum and Instructional Design. Rhode Island Department of Education provided New England Common Assessment Program data for analysis and comparison of vocational and non-vocational students. This study utilizes a descriptive non-experimental research design to examine factors of curriculum and instructional design that effect the achievement of career and technical students in reading, writing, and math. Career and technical educators (N=115) were surveyed on the level in which their program curricula were aligned, integrated, and designed to address Standard Two and evaluate whether these factors effect achievement. This study also examined the achievement level of vocational students (N=7293) and non-vocational students (N=4168) disaggregated by population. The research questions guiding this study were comprised of (1) examining levels in which factors were implemented into career and technical programs (2) achievement differences between vocational and non-vocational students in reading, writing, and math, and (3) factors of curriculum alignment, integration and instructional design relationship to the achievement of vocational students. Study findings indicate that career and technical educators perceive their curriculum as most aligned with proficiency based graduation requirements (M=4.44) while least aligned with business standards ( M=3.31). Two factors emerged from the survey data. They were categorized as academic and workplace factors. The results of a one-way ANOVA showed vocational students did not achieve differently from non-vocational students in reading F(1,10798)=3.50, p>.05, writing F(1,10801)=.15, p>.05, and math F(1,10920)=.69, p>.05. Differences in achievement emerged when the data was disaggregated by group and sub-population. Teachers, on average, perceived their programs more academically aligned with curriculum and instructional design factors than with workplace curriculum and instructional design factors. Both academic and workplace factors were independent of reading, writing, and math proficiency. Recommendations include, continue collecting data by program with additional indicators by participation level, conduct research on why certain sub-populations achieve at a higher level when participating in vocational programs, expand access to career and technical programs through programs of studies.

Subject Area

Instructional Design|Curriculum development|Vocational education

Recommended Citation

Marsella, Anthony J, "Evaluation of factors that contribute to improving academic achievement of career and technical education students in Rhode Island" (2010). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3402119.