The Davis Area Vocational Center is on "the cutting edge of American education," the state's superintendent of public instruction said in a ceremony marking the center's 10-year anniversary this week.

James R. Moss said that perception of vocational education sometimes lags behind reality in Utah. But, despite that fact, area vocational centers are becoming increasingly more important as education patterns rapidly change."Area vocational centers - with their short-term programs, open entry and exit - are the future of education, for both public education and higher education. Indeed, it is a pattern we all must follow," Moss said.

He praised the center's programs, which include hands-on career training with courses in business, computers, electronics, mechanics, construction, health occupations and farm business. The center also offers "custom-fit" programs for local business employee training. The center was established in 1978 and has grown from 19,500 to 190,000 square feet. More than 5,000 students are currently enrolled.

"Area vocational center services will provide a major educational opportunity for the youth of this state. If we are going to be competitive, we must be sure the area vocational center operations are market-driven and focus on competence in the work force," Moss said.

Only 45 percent of Utah's high school graduates have some level of college training. The rest are likely to need career training, Moss said.

DeNise Evans, a student at the center, said she had improved from a third-grade to an 11th-grade reading level in only three months at the center. She now is taking business classes in preparation for college.