A study of the cost and the effectiveness of vocational education programs for educable retardates in public schools as compared with state institutions

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Statement of the Purpose Educable mentally retarded children in Texas are entitled to receive vocational training as residents of a state institution or as students in a public school. The purpose of this study was to compare the cost and the effectiveness of a vocational-education program in a public school with the corresponding program in a state institution. The results obtained were used to determine which institution provides the most appropriate environment in which to train educable retardates to become self-supporting citizens within the community. Procedures and Sources of Data Data from a state institution for mentally retarded and from a public school district were obtained for all expenditures necessary to the implementation of the total program in both institutions and to the vocational-education programs for the educable retardate for a one-year period for the year 1972-1973. A cost comparison of the two programs was based on those services which directly affected the students in the program on a daily contact basis. This included salaries of principals and their secretaries, teachers--full-time and part-time--speech therapists assigned to the vocational education program, educational diagnosticians, and special education counselors. The analysis of expenditures was restricted to materials, equipment, and repair services purchased for exclusive use in the vocational-education programs in both schools. In order to arrive at a point of comparison of the two vocational-education programs, cost per pupil per school day was computed on a 180 day school year, or ten month period for both programs. The cost accounting phase of the study was reviewed with the comptroller of both school districts in order to assertain that all needed data would be available during the analysis of expenditures. The funding sources examined in the public school were the General Operating Fund, the Consolidated Application, the Designated Purpose Funds, the Construction Funds, the Cafeteria and Athletic Funds. For the state institution, the funding sources examined were the State Appropriated Funds, the Estimated Reappropriated Receipts, Specific Purpose Funds, and Interagency Contract Receipts. Information necessary to a comparison of the effectiveness of the two vocational-education programs was collected by means of a survey conducted on randomly selected Graduates and Graduate-equivalents from the two programs between the years 1968-1973. Relevant data were collected by copying from student records, interviewing the vocational adjustment coordinator who worked with the individual before graduation, contacting the present employer of the individual concerned in the study, and by contacting the individuals involved in the study. Results and Conclusions There was no justification for a comparison of cost of the overall program of the public school district and the state school district as the former was a single-purpose institution and the latter a multi-purpose institution. But this phase of the cost-analysis did re-emphasize the amount of the financial burden on the tax-payer if twenty-four hour a day residential care is to be provided by state institutions. It also underlined the need for serving mentally retarded individuals on a daily rather than a residential basis if this is at all possible. An analysis of the cost of the two vocational-education programs showed only a four cent difference in amount of money expended per pupil per day. The median age for the Graduate-equivalents in the study was twenty-three years, yet none of them had achieved complete financial independence. The median age of the Graduates in the study was twenty years and nine months. Fifty-four percent had established their own homes and were completely independent. Thirty-two percent had achieved partial independence. Recommendations There is a need for research designed to measure the influence of an open vs. a closed environment on the socialization of the educable mental retardate and his subsequent adjustment to community living. There should be research designed to measure the degree to which the behavior of the severely involved acting-out retardate influences the behavior of the educable retardate who lives with him in an institutionalized setting. Every effort should be made to insure that educable, retarded residents of a state institution be given the opportunity to attend the vocational-education program offered by a public school district.