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2011 May 3 - 12:00 am

MONEY TREE: Mass. Aims To Boost Vocational And Tech Schools

BOSTON (AP) — The state unveiled plans on for stepped-up support of the 60 vocational and technical schools in Massachusetts, including the creation of a new senior-level position within the Department of Education focused on vocational programs.

Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray and state education officials met with vocational school administrators at the Statehouse to announce a new leadership model for the schools that is aimed at increasing collaboration between educators and potential employers.

The 44,000 vocational and technical students in Massachusetts have higher graduation and lower dropout rates on average than high school students statewide, and many also perform better on MCAS exams, Murray said.

The schools are “one of the strongest success stories we have in our public education system,” he said, adding that they often have waiting lists for students hoping to enter.

The new post of associate commissioner for vocational, workforce, and college readiness programs will replace an existing position within the education department, officials said. The job has not yet been filled but will work to build partnerships with private sector employers, community colleges and other state agencies.

Murray said it would be the first time since 1993 that the agency has had a senior-level position focused on vocational programs.

In addition to academic subjects, vocational students can choose from a wide range of job skills to learn.

“Our vocational technical programs are among the best in the nation and remain core to our goal of strengthening the college and career readiness of the state’s public high school graduates,” said Mitchell Chester, commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

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