Nine out of ten vocational computer training programs in New York state do not meet instructional standards set by the state Consumer Protection Board, the agency has charged.
Only 25 of 230 programs at the state's 118 schools passed CPB inspection during a recent survey, the first such examination by any state agency.
"Too many schools use outdated equipment, teach rarely used computer languages and make unjustified claims for programs that are not comprehensive," said CPB executive director Rosemary S. Pooler at a press conference today.
"Choice of a deficient program can mean anywhere from three weeks to two years and $25 to $7,000 down the drain."
Pooler estimated that people spend about $32 million a year in New York state on computer schools, $20 million of which comes from public sources in grants and loans. Currently, there are 24,000 students in the New York job schools vying for about 3,000 new or replacement jobs.
On the report, entitled "Check it Out," the board evaluated each school taking into account curriculum content and cost, tuition refund policy, equipment, job placement claims and other information offered to prospective students.
The board reported, for example, that during the 1976-77 academic year, only 7 percent of those who completed the 27-week, $2,940 programmer course at PSI Institute in New York City got jobs, while 69 percent of those enrolled in a similar tuition-free course at Opportunities Industrialization Center, also in New York City, did find computer-related work.
"Some faculty members are underqualified . . . the school admits students who don't meet admission test criteria and rejects students who do," the report said of the Monroe Business Institute in the Bronx.
"The school's machines are not used for our purposes in today's fast-moving electronic industry," a former student at Albert Merrill School in New York City told CPB investigators. "They are of a mechanical nature, in short, primitive junk."
Lawrence Kramer, who directed the year-long project on a $67,000 grant from the U.S. Office of Education, said Thursday that five schools provided "significant misinformation" to the CPB and that 10 of the 118 schools in the state refused to cooperate with the survey at all.
"We feel a potential exists for the information printed to be derogatory," the director of the Mildred Elley school in Albany said in explaining his refusal to furnish the board with information about his institution.
Pooler laid much of the blame for thequality of education in the computer schools at the feet of the New York State Department of Education.
"It hasn't done much. These schools have never had a high priority," she said. "There aren't enough people assigned to the oversight of this kind of education."