Tuesday, February 15, 2000

CPS OKs expanding vo-ed program

100 more students can go to Great Oaks

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Public Schools' 11th- and 12th-graders will be able to attend more vocational classes this fall under a proposal the school board OK'd Monday night.

        The district was a partner with the Great Oaks Institute of Technology and Career Development last year, sending about 40 CPS students to Great Oaks campuses in Sharonville and Dent.

        The new agreement will allow another 100 CPS high-schoolers to enroll in Great Oaks classes.

        Great Oaks, which serves more than 3,000 students in grades 11-12 in 36 school districts, provides a greater selection of vocational classes than the 40 Career Paths programs that CPS offers in its high schools.

        CPS officials also hope a Great Oaks partnership will lead to long-term savings because the specialized equipment and teachers that vocational education requires drive up CPS costs.

        CPS enrolls 45,600 students but officials limited how many students they will send to Great Oaks until they determine whether Great Oaks better serves the district's vocational education needs.

        A progress report issued last week indicated that most of the 36 students enrolled this year maintained grade averages of C or better (although 10 had D's, F's or incomplete grades)and a third had 95 percent or higher attendance.

        The Great Oaks partnership is part of Superintendent Steven Adamowski's philosophies of decentraliza tion and market-based competition, in which the district will transfer tasks — such as vocational education — to agencies or people likely to do them better.

        The district now offers Career Paths programs for high-schoolers, including hospitality, commercial art, law/paralegal, cosmetology, recreation management, costume design, photography, auto technology, aviation and construction management.

        Some are so popular they have waiting lists. But administrators don't want to expand vocational offerings until they consider a report due in April on how to overhaul the district's high schools.

        A November report found that students in CPS Career Paths programs got better grades, scored higher on state proficiency tests and had better attendance and graduation rates than other students.

        Yet the district's Career Paths programs attract less than 30 percent of eligible students, far lower than the district's 40 percent goal, according to the report.


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