VoCATS is a competency-based and criterion-referenced instructional management system. The VoCATS model includes the following:
- setting objectives
- planning lessons
- teaching the stated objectives
- obtaining feedback
- post assessing
In the VoCATS system, the course blueprint determines the instructional content, the teacher determines the sequence of instruction, and the starting point of instruction for each student should be individualized. Assessment of student competence occurs prior to, during, and following instruction.
The term individualized means that instruction is adapted to the needs of the individual student. The pre-assessment should be utilized as a tool to help the teacher determine where to begin instruction. In an individualized classroom, students might be working in groups or alone, using personalized materials, or at their own pace. The teacher must have access to materials and assessments adaptable to a variety of learning styles, levels of difficulty, and topics of interest.
Each course blueprint identifies core learning outcomes that are basic to the course. These core outcomes are identified to ensure that essential information is covered regardless of the geographic location. All blueprint competencies and objectives contain measurable outcome behaviors. It is important that the teacher be able to recognize outcome behaviors and use them as a basis for aligning teaching and assessing.
In a criterion-referenced system such as VoCATS, results are measured and interpreted in terms of a predetermined standard. Student performance on the objectives is more important than performance on the items. VoCATS is not intended to be a norm-referenced system in which results are interpreted in terms of group performance.
VoCATS is an integrated system that includes the use of activities and materials in Career & Technical Education courses to reinforce basic skills. It is also an articulated system. The content for many Career & Technical Education courses is based on job skills needed by employers. In addition, secondary post assessments may be cross-walked or correlated with postsecondary entry exams.
Curriculum alignment is an integral part of the VoCATS system. The teacher must be concerned with outcome behaviors, valid learning experiences, valid assessing, and the percentage of time spent on each objective. Instructional and assessment materials are valid only if they teach and/or assess the outcome behavior specified in the objective. The teacher must select learning materials and methods as well as assessment materials and methods that match the objectives.