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

61 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2017

See all articles by Daniel Kreisman

Daniel Kreisman

Georgia State University

Kevin Stange

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2017

Abstract

Vocational education is a large part of the high school curriculum, yet we have little understanding of what drives vocational enrollment or whether these courses help or harm early careers. To address this we develop a framework for curriculum choice, taking into account ability and preferences for academic and vocational work. We test model predictions using detailed transcript and earnings information from the NLSY97. Our results are two-fold. First, students positively sort into vocational courses, suggesting the belief that low ability students are funneled into vocational coursework is unlikely true. Second, we find higher earnings among students taking more upper-level vocational courses – a nearly 2% wage premium for each additional year, yet we find no gain from introductory vocational courses. These results suggest (a) policies limiting students’ ability to take vocational courses may not be welfare enhancing, and (b) the benefits of vocational coursework accrue to those who focus on depth over breadth.

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Suggested Citation

Kreisman, Daniel and Stange, Kevin, Vocational and Career Tech Education in American High Schools: The Value of Depth Over Breadth (September 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23851. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3042433

Daniel Kreisman (Contact Author)

Georgia State University ( email )

Kevin Stange

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy ( email )

735 South State Street, Weill Hall
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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