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AUDIT FAULTS OVERSIGHT OF CAREER PROGRAM EFFECTIVENESS

October 7, 2003
Gongwer, Volume #42, Report #195 --Tuesday, October 7, 2003

The state's Office of Career and Technical Preparation does an inadequate job of assessing the effectiveness of the programs at the district level to place students in appropriate jobs or further education tracks, an audit by Auditor General Thomas McTavish concluded Tuesday.

The program within the Department of Career Development, which had received some of the same criticism when it was part of the Department of Education, agreed with most of the recommendations to improve its oversight function.

The audit suggested analysis of district-specific data rather than regional figures and placement for each career program rather than averages for all programs. It also said monitoring of district career/technical education and Tech Prep programs should include on-site reviews, something that is done for CTE but not Tech Prep. The state office said its desk reviews effectively monitored the proper use of expenditures, but agreed to implement a comprehensive monitoring process for 2003-04.

The audit, covering the period of July 1, 1999-June 30, 2002, said the office failed to establish performance standards for specific program-related placements through the $49 million career/technical programs provided through school districts. The office's performance indicator included placements even when students landed positions not related to their training, and it estimated its placement rate at about 95 percent in three recent years.

But using more specific criteria to judge program-related placements, the audit determined the average placement rate was 64 percent in two comparable years, with the range for various program areas as low as 60 percent for hospitality/food services in 1998-99 to 70 percent for business services/technology for 1999-2000.

The audit repeated a recommendation that the office establish standards pertaining to specific program placements and evaluate the programs on a district basis as well as statewide.

Although most districts saw placements for all programs at over 60 percent, the audit found severe placement problems in some districts such as the 24 which placed 20 percent or fewer of its students in programs related to business services/technology in 1999-2000. The figures also varied significantly from year-to-year in many districts, the audit said.

The office said it used performance indicators required by federal law, which it said is more comprehensive even though not using related placement standards, and that districts gain better information with the information that includes academic performance, technical skill achievement, completion and placement data. But it agreed program-related placements would be of further assistance and said it would incorporate that data into the process.

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