Alexandria celebrates Vocational Education Week this week with more than half of its secondary school students enrolled in some kind of vocational course.
Of the 5,066 students enrolled in the city's three secondary schools in November, 3,810 were taking vocational courses, according to a report released last week.
It's "safe to say the figures haven't changed that much" in the last few years, according to Donald V. Miller, director of vocational education for Alexandria's public schools. Miller characterized the percentage of students enrolled in vocational courses as stable, although he said there may be a slight upward trend in recent years in the numbers of students enrolled. The 1984-85 school year represents Alexandria's first overall enrollment increase in several years.
Many of the students taking vocational courses in Alexandria are going on to higher education, a fact that excites Miller. "We're pleased so many college-bound kids take advantage of what we have to offer," he said.
Among the most popular courses for the college bound are those in business law, consumer economics and typing. Miller estimated that 80 percent of Alexandria's college-bound students take a typing course at the secondary level.
Other courses popular with college-bound students are found in the industrial arts area at T.C. Williams High School. Miller said that classes in electronics, technical drawing and photography are popular with college-bound students hoping to get a jump on their college field of study.
Less than half of the students enrolled in vocational classes in Alexandria are in what Miller calls a "sequential occupational training program." These 1,671 students are concentrated in the areas of business and trades and industry. Business classes are the most popular vocational classes overall, with 1,612 students enrolled as of November. Of that number, 793 were on an occupational track. The others were taking the courses as electives.
This year, Alexandria is training its vocational students under a new set of state requirements that provide a checklist of tasks that a student must complete. These checklists will be made available to employers after the student graduates.