CATALYST v23n4 - Tech Prep in the Community Colleges

Volume XXIII, Number 4
Fall 1993

Tech Prep in the Community Colleges

David Deckelbaum
User Services Coordinator

Tech Prep programs attempt to provide a cohesive, expanded curriculum to prepare students for a workplace that is increasingly more technical in its orientation. Secondary schools and community colleges have created 2+2 programs to address the educational needs of high school students interested in pursuing a technical education, beyond grade 12, that leads to an associate degree. Some community colleges are also endeavoring to capture out-of-school adult populations who have an interest in pursuing an associate degree in a technical/vocational field to be more competitive in today's job market.

The following citations reflect some of the current literature on community colleges and their involvement with Tech Prep programs. ERIC documents can be viewed on microfiche at approximately 900 libraries worldwide. In addition, most may be ordered on microfiche or in paper copy from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service by calling 800/443-ERIC. For an EDRS order form, or for more information on our products and services, please contact the ERIC Clearinghouse for Junior Colleges at 310/825-3931, or via the Internet at

Hull, Dan, (Comp.), and Parnell, Dale, (Comp.). Tech Prep Associate Degree: A Win/Win Experience. Waco, TX: Center for Occupational Research and Development, Inc., 1991.423 pp. (ED 331 539) Not available from EDRS.

Designed to serve as a "how to" guide for policymakers and state, federal, and institutional leaders, as well as public school and higher education practitioners interested in developing a Tech Prep/Associate Degree (TPAD) consortium, this book provides a detailed synthesis of successful TPAD consortia and programs. The first five chapters offer a rationale, methodology, structure, process, and advice for forming and operating a TPAD consortium. These chapters include: (1) "Every Student a Winner: The Case for TPAD" (D. Parnell); (2) "Getting Off the Ground: The Basics of Developing a TPAD Consortium" (D. Hull); (3) "A Solid Foundation: The Role of Applied Academics" (L. Pedrotti; D. Parks); (4) "It's a Team Effort! Developing and Implementing a TPAD Program" (M. Dutton); and (5) "Smoothing the Rough Spots: Identifying Issues and Overcoming Obstacles" (C. Belcher). Next, chapters 6 and 7 present "Success Stories: Examples of Working TPAD Programs" (D. James; D. Ingram; H. Padden; D.M. Walter; and S. Vigil); and "Retraining for Technology: TRAP for Adults" (W. Edling, A. Sosbe; S. Everett; and S. Malbrough). Chapters 8 and 9, "Getting 'Em and Keeping 'Em" (J. Marmaras; L. McClure; G. Harpole; and A. Miller); and "The Employer's Role: Connecting Students to the Marketplace" (C. Marsalis; M. Rice), address the issues of recruiting, retaining, and employing TPAD students. Finally, chapter 10, "How Do You Feel about TPAD? A Forum of Satisfactions and Concerns" (B. Segura; J.F. Yeager; E. Marcom; T. Parker; C. Rouse; C. Phillips; H. Palmer; S. Shields; and E. Henderson), examines the feelings and appraisals of those playing key roles in existing consortia. Appendices provide curriculum models for TPAD; facts about applied academics, using applied academics to improve general and vocational education in the high school, and references and resources.

Illinois Tech Prep Planning Strategies. Urbana, IL: Illinois University, Dept. of Vocational and Technical Education, 1991. 117 pp. (ED 345 021)

This tech prep planning handbook is based on research conducted at the Office of Community College Research and Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The study involved information gathering procedures at 17 tech prep pilot sites about their planning activities. Seven sections are included: (l) tech prep in Illinois; (2) applying the tech prep planning process; (3) involving key groups in planning tech prep; (4) developing the components of tech prep--local policies, staff development, articulated curriculum, curriculum development, written agreements, guidance and counseling, marketing, and business/industry collaboration; (5) putting tech prep into action; (6) evaluating the tech prep plan; and (7) four appendices-- contributors, words of advice, 1990-1991 Tech Prep Initiatives' Profiles, and 15 suggested resources.

Oregon Tech Prep/Associate Degree Program: Developing a High Performance Workforce. Salem, OR: Oregon State Board of Education, and Oregon State Department of Education, Office of Community College Services. 1992.16 pp. (ED 346 907) Available from Oregon State Department of Education, Publications Sales Clerk, 700 Pringle Parkway S.E., Salem, OR 97310-0290 ($2).

Issued jointly by Oregon's Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Commissioner of Community Colleges, this policy statement is aimed at implementing the Oregon Tech Prep/Associate Degree Program (TPAD), a new applied academics curricular structure. The paper begins with a summary of Oregon's school reform effort, an open letter to the leaders of Oregon high schools and community colleges, a statement of the problem of addressing the educational and curricular needs of those students who are unlikely to complete a baccalaureate, and four benchmarks concerning the education and job training of high school students into the year 2010. Next, an introduction describes the need for a TPAD, emphasizing the ways in which such a program removes barriers to educational excellence. After providing a definition of a TPAD, the paper proposes that the following steps be taken to initiate Oregon's program: (1) develop a structured and substance-rich applied academics curriculum; (2) develop and implement high standards, achievement expectations, and assessment policies; (3) develop learning and guidance strategies; (4) provide teacher/counselor preservice and inservice programs; (5) develop the curriculum through collaboration among high school and college faculty, regional professional technical education coordinators, education service districts, and employer representatives; (6) develop strategies aimed at changing student, as well as public attitudes, about professional technical training; and (7) develop community college "bridge" programs to prepare adult students to move into TPAD programs. For each of the seven proposed steps, a number of more specific activities are explored. Notes and references are also included.

Preparing Michigan Students for the Jobs of Tomorrow: The Report of the Tech Prep Task Force. Lansing, MI: Michigan State Board of Education, 1991. 73 pp. (ED 342 450)

Both secondary schools and community colleges are under pressure to increase the technical content of their curricula to produce graduates who can fill highly skilled technician jobs in a changing work force. Technical Preparation (Tech Prep) Programs are partnerships between secondary and postsecondary institutional levels that incorporate career counseling and curricular cooperation. In Michigan, a statewide task force was charged with developing models for the Tech Prep concept in the state. The task force identified the essential components of leadership, guidance/ counseling, and curriculum for each Tech Prep program, and recommended a level of state support necessary to implement successful programs. The leadership component involves institutional decision makers, business and industry, coordinators for each high school/community college partnership, and partnerships to ensure that high school completion students have access to Tech Prep. The key elements of guidance and counseling for Tech Prep include student selection, career awareness/exploration, self-awareness, career planning, student assessment and placement, and education/employability development plans (EDP) beginning in high school that will lead to a technical career. The curricular component focuses on the following competencies: abstract thinking skills, social and work skills, technical literacy, and technology education. To implement Tech Prep in Michigan, state support will be needed in public relations, evaluation, technical assistance and the development of demonstration programs. Appendices include examples of an EDP, Technical Preparation Competency requirements, organizational structures, three established partnership programs, the minutes of Task Force general meetings, and a 54-item bibliography.

Preparing Workforce 2000 through Vocational Technical 2+2 Programs. Portland, OR: Portland Area Vocational-Technical Education Consortium, 1990. 28 pp. (ED 318 516)

An overview is provided of the 1989 accomplishments of the Portland Area Vocational Technical Education Consortium (PAVTEC), which was created to strengthen partnerships between Portland Community College (PCC) and local high schools to provide high quality articulated vocational-technical programs. The first section looks at the roles of PAVTEC, local school districts, PCC, and the State Department of Education in efforts to prepare a regional workforce for the year 2000. Financial highlights are discussed next, including PAVTEC's use of federal and local resources and funding from the new Oregon Workforce 2000 Act. This section also includes a five-year revenue profile, and graphs showing PAVTEC's yearly expenditures from 1986 to 1989, its budgets for 1989-90 and 1990-91, and 1990-91 Workforce 2000 funding. The next section looks at PAVTEC's accomplishments during 1989-90, focusing on the following areas: (1) program management and organization; (2) the work of a Special Needs Task Force to meet the needs of the disabled and disadvantaged; (3) a 2+2+2 tech prep Model Program in Electronic Engineering Technology, which links PCC's associate degree program to a high school electronics cluster and the Oregon Institute of Technology's upper-division programs; (4) the accomplishments of committees and subcommittees on demonstration projects, program continuance/improvement, staff development, forecasting and advising, marketing and communications, and new avenues for articulation and partnerships, and of the PAVTEC steering committee; (5) results of an impact evaluation of regional cooperative vocational technical education and 2+2 programs; (6) data on student and school district participation; (7) updates to PAVTEC's three-year plan; and (8) the expansion of the Assistantship internship program for vocational-technical teachers and counselors. Following a summary of PAVTEC's first four years, the report suggests future directions in the areas of technology, trade, hospitality, and health education; meeting the education and training needs of employers; and local-state-federal partnerships to ensure funding. Members of PAVTEC's Representative Council are listed.

Suksi, James. "Educational Reform: Bridging the Tech Prep Gap." Paper presented at the American Vocational Association Convention, Los Angeles, CA, December 1991. 28 pp. (ED 345 033)

In response to the Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Act, schools and colleges across the country are rushing to launch "tech prep" education programs. The resulting 2+2 programs are designed primarily for 16- to 20-year-olds who complete high school and then go on for postsecondary education in a technical or practical field. However, the legislation does not take into account that segment of the out-of-school population who also desire to earn an associate degree in a practical field but are inadequately prepared to do so. In an effort to bridge the knowledge gap of this group, the School of Technology and Applied Sciences at Northern Michigan University began a l-semester, technology-oriented developmental program. The bridging curriculum addresses all the competencies recommended for technical preparation by the Michigan Tech-Prep Task Force to strengthen the Learners' basic skills. Major components of the program include assessment, counseling, advising, faculty inservice training, course delivery, program evaluation, and follow-up. The interdisciplinary curriculum requires students to attend classes for 30 hours per week. Courses include survival skills, applied communications, applied mathematics, principles of technology, applied chemistry and biology, computer literacy, the systems approach, modern technology, quality, entrepreneurship, inventing, and career planning. The program provides students with experiences comparable to those of "tech prep" students and allows them to enroll in an associate degree program with expectations of success.

Tech Prep. Annotated Resource List. Berkeley, CA: National Center for Research in Vocational Education, l 992.13 pp. (ED 348 530) Available from the National Center for Research in Vocational Education Materials Distribution Service, Horrabin Hall 46, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455 (order no. MDS-452: $1).

This annotated resource list consists of print materials, educational information centers/services, and organizations providing practitioners with information on Tech Prep resources for program improvement. Each listing includes some or all of the following: title, author(s), publisher, address/contact, description, pages, and cost. Ten references, three newsletters, two organizations, and three centers for education/information services are listed.

Tech Prep Compendium of Models. [Revised]. Dover, DE: Delaware Statewide Vocational-Technical High Schools, and Delaware Technical and Community College., 1990. 50 pp. (ED 332 016)

This publication discusses four models for technical preparation (tech prep): program organization, student progress, tech prep data collection and evaluation model, and school/community. The program organization model is divided into four sections. Section I, the business, industry, and labor section, shows the flow from craft committee and partnerships in excellence through the DACUM (Developing a Curriculum) process to involvement of unions. It also describes how Delaware`s Business, Industry, and Education Alliance, the various local Chambers of Commerce, and state government agencies each play a significant role. The next section describes the tech prep consortium and its mission. Section III on articulation procedures discusses three identifiable strategies and provides a sample articulation contract. Advanced standing is addressed in Section IV. Following this is a description of the student progress

focuses on recruitment, enrollment, advanced credit, and final secondary year. Section II considers selection, career guidance and placement test, registration, enrollment with advanced standing, and higher education. Next, the data collection and evaluation model outlines teacher procedures; Delaware Department of Public Instruction/Educational Computer System procedure; postsecondary procedure; evaluation and assessment; and descriptive studies, including measure effects on recruiting and success of feeder schools. Finally, the school-community model outlines six specific educational needs of students who do not consider college a viable option. The needs are divided between program entry and admission to higher education.

Tech Prep Degree: Preparing Tomorrow's Workforce Design, Development and Implementation of a TECH PREP Core Program. East Moline, IL: Quad-City/Tri-County Vocational Regions, 1991. 166 pp. (ED 347 349)

The focus of tech prep at Quad-City/Tri-County Vocational Regions/Black Hawk College was on providing all students with skills for higher education as well as job opportunities. To accomplish this, a comprehensive model applicable to all program areas was implemented to provide sequenced, vocationally and academically integrated, and complementary vocational-technical courses/programs across the secondary, community college, and university levels. A Core Group Planning Committee composed of education and business/industry representatives used the DACUM (Developing a Curriculum) approach to define core knowledge and skills needed by students in three occupational cluster areas: business, human services, and engineering. Private sector representatives worked with academic and technical educators at each of four pilot sites to identify competencies for specific programs. Formalized articulation agreements were signed with Black Hawk College, member schools of the Quad-City/Tri-County Vocational Regions, and two high schools. The model tech prep core curriculum was to be field tested during Fiscal Year 1992. (Appendices, which make up the bulk of the report, include agendas and minutes of meetings; curriculum review forms; correspondence; inservice materials; information on articulation agreements, such as school/course matrix, material on development, and sample agreement; and agreement between high school and Black Hawk College.)

Tech Prep: Developing Cooperative Programs and Partnerships. National Satellite Teleconference Proceedings. Berkeley, CA: National Center for Research in Vocational Education, Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1992.29 pp. (ED 344 063) Available from NCRVE Materials Distribution Service, Horrabin Hall 46, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL 61455 (order no. MDS-383A: $2.00).

This document reports the proceedings of a teleconference convened to acquaint vocational education leaders and the vocational education community with the federal guidelines for "tech prep" programs as well as the elements of successful programs. About 700 down-link sites from 48 states participated in the conference, with an estimated audience of some 10,000 persons. The following presentations were part of the conference: "Tech Prep Satellite Teleconference Introduction" (David Crippens); "The New Perkins Act and Tech Prep Education" (Winifred I. Warnat); "Tech Prep Development in Postsecondary Education" (James Dixon); "Tech Prep from the Consortium and Postsecondary Perspective" (Diana Walter); "Business and Industry's Role in Tech Prep" (Royce N. Angel); and "Factors Influencing Tech Prep Planning and Implementation" (Debra Bragg).

Walter, Diana M. "Tech Prep: Challenges and Opportunities for Community Colleges." Southern Association of Community, Junior, and Technical Colleges (SACJTC) Occasional Paper, 10 (1). Southern Association of Community, Junior, and Technical Colleges, 1992. 8 pp. (ED 350 033) Available from Piedmont Technical College, P.O. Drawer 1467, Greenwood, SC 29648 ($3).

The Partnership for Academic and Career Education (PACE), established in 1987, is a consortium bringing together the seven school districts of Anderson, Oconee, and Pickins counties in South Carolina (representing 16 high schools and 4 secondary vocational/career centers); local businesses; and Tri-County Technical College (TCTC). Seeking to eliminate gaps and overlaps between secondary and postsecondary programs while providing incentives for students to stay in school and graduate into meaningful employment, the current program design begins in grade 9, emphasizing a strong academic foundation, complemented by occupational coursework. The program emphasizes employment opportunities in the mid-level technologies, requiring vocational training up to and including an associate degree. For students in grades 9-12, specific academic and occupational courses are developed around four cluster areas: industrial/engineering technologies, business technologies, health technologies, and public service technologies. Five of the seven districts have replaced General Education with an enrollment in either Tech Prep or College Prep course sequences. A study conducted by TCTC in 1991 has shown increased enrollments and applications for admission as a result of the program. In addition, there has been a growing interest in plant tours of local business, as well as campus tours. Additional funding for PACE has made it possible to hire a full-time coordinator, and newly planned activities include development of advanced technologies certificates; expanding articulation between high schools, TCTC, and four-year institutions; and developing improved advising manuals for students.

Tracy Gilmore