Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education

Committee Chair

Stone, James R.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Choi, Namok

Committee Member

Shuck, Brad

Committee Member

Hardesty, Patrick

Committee Member

Kotamraju, Pradeep


High school students; Academic achievement; Vocational education; College preparation programs


Career and Technical Education, earlier known as Vocational Education, has been formally part of public education since 1917. Federal policies have been used to support linking academic and vocationally-based curricula to give secondary and postsecondary students practical work experience within schools to prepare them for the workforce (Gordon, 2008). The current policy, The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, or Perkins IV, is the most recent policy to integrate academic and vocationally-based curricula’s using a career pathway model under Programs of Study (POS) (USDE, 2013). POS are career pathways that students choose in the beginning of their high school careers that enables them to take courses in a determined sequence. Completion of a course sequence in a POS puts students on a career track in high school where, upon graduation, they have the skills and necessary credentials for either postsecondary education or the workforce. Through POS, students make linkages between what they are learning in school and skills that they will apply in the real world. Research on the effects of Perkins IV implementation is built into the legislated accountability measures (USDE, 2013). This dissertation examined the effects of POS participation on student outcome variables using waves of survey data from secondary students in grades 9 and 12. The student outcome variables were academic achievement, student engagement, and transitions into postsecondary education or the workforce. Results suggested a positive association between POS participation effects and student outcome variables for the 9th grade survey participants and a positive association between POS participation and student engagement for the 12th grade survey participants. The results also suggested positive, but mixed, associations between gender and student outcome variables. The results were consistent with current literature on the effects of POS participation and gender on student outcome variables, except for the 12th grade participants. These findings from the 9th grade survey suggest a selection effect in school assignment along with early POS effects. The findings from the 12th grade survey show the POS effect. Recommendations are made that more studies need to be conducted on the participation of secondary students in a POS and the ability of these programs to effectively prepare students for postsecondary education and the workforce. More alignment between academic and vocational education curricula is also recommended to further develop the skillsets of young adults to meet the demands of the 21st century workforce.

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Education Commons