Vocational and Career Tech Education in American High Schools: The Value of Depth over Breadth

Daniel Kreisman, Kevin Stange
2017 Social Science Research Network  
Vocational, or career tech, education is a growing part of the US high school curriculum. Yet, little research studies either factors that lead to enrollment in these courses or effects on college-going and work. We develop a framework for high school curriculum choice and evaluate how these decisions impact college attendance, completion and subsequent earnings in the NLSY97. Our results are consistent with a positive selection model where students sort according to skill and preferences. We
more » ... d preferences. We find that while vocational courses marginally deter four-year college attendance, they have no impact on graduation. Moreover, we estimate a near two percent wage premium for each additional year of advanced vocational coursework, but no benefit (or harm) from basic vocational courses. We conclude that while vocational education plays an important role for non-college graduates, policy should focus on encouraging depth rather than breadth in vocational course-taking.
doi:10.2139/ssrn.3051765 fatcat:invs5r76gzccld3p5yjadjxps4