JVER v25n2 - High School Career and Technical Education for the First Decade of the 21st Century

Volume 25, Number 2

High School Career and Technical Education for the First Decade of the 21st Century

Richard L. Lynch
University of Georgia


New directions for high school career and technical education for the first decade of the 21st Century are identified and described. The work is based on a review and synthesis of contemporary creative thought, opinion, policy-influencing documents, research, and reflective thinking from a plethora of stakeholder involved generally with high school education and more specifically with career and technical education. Four forces are underpinning reform of high school vocational education in the US: The new economy, public expectation for schools, new research on student learning and motivation, and high school reform. Six components are integral to reform: High school majors, contextual teaching and learning, work-based learning, authentic assessment, career academies, and tech prep.

Vocational education is a collective term in high schools to identify curriculum programs designed to prepare students to acquire an education and job skills, enabling them to enter employment immediately upon high school graduation. As mirrored in the larger, complicated society and its public education system, vocational education in the United States is diverse, large, and complex.

There are various operational and accountability-related definitions for vocational education throughout the country. However, the descriptions from most stakeholders and for program enrollment reporting purposes have evolved from federal legislation and guidelines. Thus, according to federal reports, vocational education courses or programs are offered in 93 percent of the nation's 15,200 comprehensive, Grade 9-12 high schools. Nearly all of these high schools offer introductory courses taught for purposes of general labor market preparation to provide students with practical or life skills, such as word processing (typing), introduction to computers, technology education, or family and consumer sciences. About 75 percent of all comprehensive high schools offer several courses in one or more specialized labor market preparation programs, historically identified as agriculture, business and office, marketing, health, family and consumer sciences (occupational or wage earning), trade and industrial, and technical and communications ( Boesel, Hudson, Deich, & Masten, 1994 ). More recently the federal government added public and protective services, childcare and education, food service, hospitality, technology and communications, and personal and other services to its classification of vocational education program areas ( Levesque, Lauen, Teitelbaum, Alt, Librera, & Nelson, 2000 ).

In addition to comprehensive high schools, secondary vocational education is also offered at about 1,100 area vocational centers nationwide, where students attend part of the day or evening for specialized vocational programs. They then attend their "home" high school for academic or general education courses during the other part of the day. There are also about 250 vocational, career, or specialty high schools in the U. S. that focus on preparing students for work in a particular occupation or industry, but offer the academic and general courses at this high school. Students attend the vocational school full time.

Vocational education has a long and rich history in American public secondary schools, largely due to federal legislation and funding. The beginning of the major federal influences in molding and shaping secondary vocational education began with the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917. This legislation was in response to a complex set of social, economic, and political forces but especially was enacted to prepare youth for jobs resulting from the industrial revolution and to provide them with an alternative from the general curriculum of schools which were "too exclusively literary in spirit, scope, and methods." ( Swanson, 1951, p. 16 ). The Smith-Hughes Act emphasized separatism from the classical curriculum and called for a new one that would better meet the needs of the children of the working class who, for the first time, were attending high school but were not headed for the professions ( Gray, 1991 ). Thus, the earliest vocational programs were grounded primarily in the need to prepare more blue-collar-type students with practical skills for the nation's farms, factories, and homes. Foci in the federal legislation shifted over the years, but the general thrust of federal policy and funding at the high school level-throughout the past 80+ years--remained largely to train boys and girls for jobs in the economy.

Enrollments in high school vocational education increased unabated until the early 1980s. In 1982, the "average" American high school student took about 22 percent (4.7 Carnegie credits) of his or her 21.6 high school credit course load. By 1994, this had dropped to 4.0 credits (16 percent), while the total high school credit load had increased to 24.2 credits. The number of students who concentrated in vocational education (i.e., three or more courses in a single occupational program area) decreased from nearly 34 percent of the 1982 graduates to 25.5 percent in 1994 ( Levesque et al., 2000 ). Further, those 1992 and 1994 graduates who concentrated (3 or more credits) or specialized (4 or more credits, with 2 credits beyond the introductory level) in vocational education were disproportionately represented of special populations: Single parents, disabled, limited English proficient, lowest 25% on social-economic status, below a C grade point average, in need of two or more remedial credits, and in the bottom 25 percent on standardized test scores ( Boesel et al., 1994, p. 18 ; Levesque et al., 2000, p. 56 ).

There are many reasons for the steep decline in vocational education during the 10 to 12 year span from 1982-1994. Among other reasons: (a) Programs were not seen as meeting the needs of students, employers and the community; (b) vocational education competed against other curriculum programs-especially college preparatory-for a shrinking student population; (c) vocational education suffered from an image of a dumbed-down curriculum; (d) programs were often targeted primarily to educationally disadvantaged students; (e) confusion with school-to-work programs which became unpopular with many critics of education; (f) an elitist view that says any formal context of education for work is not appropriate for students aspiring to a four-year college or university; and (f) a general perception that vocational education will inhibit rather than enhance youth's future career and educational choices ( Catri, 1998 ; Innerst, 1999 ; Ries, 1997 ).

Whether in response to declining enrollments, a poor image, or increased pressure from such relevant stakeholders as business and policy groups, around 1990 and on into the last decade of the 20th Century, some of vocational education in American high schools seem to change, albeit not all and not in all places. Much anecdotal reporting in the literature and at conferences, information gleaned from various federal data bases, and reports of new directions for public education-including vocational education-indicated slow, but important changes were taking place in the philosophy or rationale underpinning vocational education, the nature and types of programs being offered in American high schools, and the student and employer audiences to whom programs were being targeted.

Among others, the more relevant changes, where change occurred, seemed to be to prepare students concentrating in a vocational education curriculum concomitantly for employment and higher education. This reformed vocational education is characterized with a curriculum based on the need for students to demonstrate mastery of (a) rigorous industry standards, (b) high academic standards and related general education knowledge, (c) technology, and (d) general employment competencies. In addition, the curriculum seems to be teaching students all aspects of an industry [i.e., in contrast to just a specific job skill(s)].

Where changes have been made, names other than vocational education and new descriptors are being used in states and localities to depict this revised area of the school or state's curriculum: Applied studies, technical education, applied technology education, workforce education and development, and career and professional (or technical) education, among others. In December of 1998, the members of the American Vocational Association (AVA) voted to change the name of their professional association to the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). They chose this new moniker as the one to best describe their work and profession and to identify their association, and then encouraged other organizations and government agencies to remove "vocational education" from titles, policy documents, and legislation and replace it with career and technical education .

Today, vocational education at the high school level, hereafter referred to as career and technical education, seems to be at a crossroads. There appears to be consensus that much-if not most-of it needs to change but how so and in what direction has not been well documented.


The purpose of the work described herein is to identify and describe new directions for career and technical education in American high schools during the first decade of the 21st Century. The nomenclature indeed may vary, but the essential purpose is to describe an appropriate education and experiences needed by high school students to prepare them concomitantly to enter employment upon graduation and/or to continue studying in postsecondary institutions at that time or at some later period in their lives.


New directions have been drawn from a review and synthesis of creative thought, opinion, policy-influencing documents, research, and reflective thinking from a plethora of stakeholders involved generally with high school education in the United States and specifically with career and technical education. Position papers, strategic plans, and other documents-primarily those published in the 1990s-were reviewed from many education groups, trade and professional organizations, state and local school systems, business or business coalitions, and government.

Conversations were held with participants at the national conferences of AVA (now known as ACTE), the National Association of State Directors of Vocational and Technical Education Consortium (NASDVTC), and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE); three regional conferences on Improving America's Schools sponsored by the secretary of Education; and two state career and technical education conferences, New York and Kentucky. Discussions were held with participants on several e-mail listserves, including the state directors of vocational and technical education, faculty/administrators affiliated with the University Council for Workforce and Human Resource Education (UCWHRE), those on-line with the National Center for Research in Vocational Education (NCRVE), and two others focused on high school reform and teaching and learning.

Face-to-face, telephone, or focus group interviews were held with many business persons, representing a range of industries; trade and professional association executives and staff; public school administrators; state directors of career and technical education programs; university deans and faculty; government officials; and other individuals known to have researched and published about and/or advocated widely for career and technical education. Open-ended responses about the vision of work-based education were received through mail and/or e-mail from over 200 individuals.

The literature and research review, interviews, conference presentations and conversations, and review of written strategic plans and positions took place from July of 1998 through June of 1999. Subsequently, drafts of written sections about new directions or an executive summary were reviewed by and discussed with over 50 stakeholders (e.g., state directors of career and technical education, federal officials, and staff from business coalitions or professional associations). Where appropriate, directions were modified in an attempt to reach consensus from primary stakeholders.

The Grounding of High School Career and Technical Education

There are four forces underpinning the demand for reform in high school vocational education, hereafter referred to as career and technical education: (a) The new economy, (b) public expectations for students, (c) new research on student learning and motivation and effective teaching, and (d) a loud and vocal call for reform of the American high school.

The New Economy

As economists are widely pointing out, it is no longer a post-agricultural or post-industrial world. Rather it is a new world of fast communications and information, rapid decision-making, and intelligent social skills that are needed to deal with economic, technical, ecological, and ethical issues identified with complex problems facing every economic, social, or political system ( Nijhof, 1998 ). This new economic world is vastly different from the agricultural/factory environment that ushered in public school vocational education at the turn of the 20th Century. It is characterized today by international activity, cyberspace, ever-changing market demands and standards, rapid product life cycle, ever-increasingly sophisticated computers and need for a more thorough knowledge of the holistic (the gestalt) of the business environment rather than just specific skills or narrow job tasks ( Carnevale, 1991 ; O-Hara-Devereaux & Johansen, 1994 ; Wirth, 1992 ). Today's workplaces are often in multiple locations characterized by cultural diversity-almost mosaic, fragmented or "different" organizations and infrastructures, periodic economic restructuring, and constantly changing worker roles and duties.

Increasingly, economists and scholars talk about the ascendancy of knowledge as a primary product and competitive edge for many businesses; increased reliance on team problem solving-often from remote locations; and incredible (and sometimes difficult) need to manage information and technology; ability to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information and use that information to solve problems; new versions and forms of prerequisite technical skills; flexible jobs; and new iterations of related education and skill requirements, that is, a constant need to continue to learn and upgrade ( Bernhardt, Morris, Handcock, & Scott, 1998 ; Brown, 1999 ; Carnevale, 1991 ; Marshall & Tucker, 1992 ; Wirth, 1992 ).

The specific skills to enter and succeed in these workplaces have also changed significantly in the past two decades. Technical and technological skills remain important, but they must be modified and grounded in employees' ability to think of them in the context of the big picture (i.e., technical skills' role in knowledge and understanding of all aspects of the industry). Employers increasingly discuss the importance of new skills crucial to employees' ability to work effectively, such as knowing how to learn, interpersonal skills, competence in applying general education (reading, writing, calculating, computing) to workplaces, ability to work in teams or groups, effective listening and oral communications skills, adaptability and flexibility, personal management skills with good self esteem, and personal and workplace ethics, leadership or initiative, and-seemingly, above all-the ability to think and to solve problems in workplaces. Many of these skills were once reserved for those in management; today, they are considered necessary for individuals of all levels of employment ( Alpern, 1997 ; Clagett, 1997 ; Evers, Rush, & Berdrow, 1998 ; Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, 1991 ; Stasz, Ramsey, & Eden, 1995 ).

In the U.S. today, less than 20 percent of the workforce is in jobs classified as unskilled. This is almost an exact reversal of the nature of the American workforce just 40 years ago. In 1959, 60 percent of the workforce was unskilled, with 20 percent classified as professional and 20 percent as skilled. Today 60 percent of the workforce is in skilled occupations and 20 percent in professions. The assembly line, single-skill jobs of the factory or construction site and the office clerk typist or bookkeeper are largely defunct. Rather, there is a tremendous demand for educated people with general employability and specialized technical skills in areas related to computer science and computer science technology, high-tech manufacturing, software development, biotechnology, biomedical applications, sales and services, data base management, and health care. Nearly all of the rapidly growing jobs and occupations require postsecondary or extensive continuing education ( Murnane & Levy, 1996 ; 10 Hot Jobs, 1999 ; U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Education, National Institute of Literacy, and the Small Business Administration, 1999 ).

Thus, it is important to recognize in any redirection of high school career and technical education the role the new economy is playing in determining the need for all students today to have increasingly higher levels of academics and, simply stated, to know more and to be able to learn even more. It is simply in the best interests for all high school students to plan for and prepare to attend postsecondary education whether they want to or not. This is crucial information and needs increasingly to be included in career development and guidance sessions for all students in all schools.

Higher levels of learning result in increased wages. Expressed in constant 1997 dollars, the fully employed high school dropout earns an average of $16,124 per year, the high school graduate (no college) earns $22,895, the associate degree graduate earns $26,235, the baccalaureate degree graduate earns $40,478, and the college grad with an advanced degree earns $63,229. Some college (no degree) also increases the median annual earning of full-time year-round wage and salary workers for all adult population segments. For example, just one year of non-degree education at a college increases hourly wages above those for high school graduates by 8 percent for males and 5 percent for females less than 21 years of age. Even nondegree but extensive postsecondary company training programs add dollars to wages ( Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998 ; Choy, 1998 ; Decker, 1996 ; Medrich, 1996 ; Phillippe & Patton, 2000 ; Toth, 1999 ; U.S. Department of Commerce et al., 1999 ).

In addition to higher salaries and wages, various government data bases also show that increased levels of educational attainment and academic achievement enhance students' future abilities to earn a good living and sustain a career in others ways. They correlate strongly with improved worker productivity, less unemployment, greater benefits, ability to learn new skills and workplace operations more rapidly, exposure to and engagement with computers, and generally, better ability to negotiate the rigors of the labor market. Even dislocated workers with an associate's degree or higher find new jobs at higher average pay than the jobs they lost ( U.S. Department of Commerce et al., 1999 ). Conversely, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ( 1998 ) reported that for out-of-school youth (16-24 years of age), the unemployment rate for those who have not graduated from high school is 19.8 percent, compared with 11.1 percent for those with a high school diploma (no college) and 2.1 percent for those with a baccalaureate degree.

The conclusion is indeed obvious. Drawing on economic analysis of wage and salary and other employment-related data and information, individuals' investment in education and further training pays big dividends; the more education, the better.

Public Expectations

Public survey data lead to two conclusions about expectations related to career and technical education: (a) The public does indeed want career education and work skills included as critical components of the public school, K-12, curriculum, and (b) parents expect their children to attend college.

Marzano, Kendall, and Cicchinelli ( 1999 ) concluded that five subject areas have majority acceptance by the American adult public as definitely necessary in school curriculum: Health, work skills, language arts, technology, and mathematics. All standards identified with the work skills subject category were rated as definitely necessary; the specific skills were drawn heavily from general employability skills and included for example, standards about working with others, working with tools and technology, work ethics, and managing money. This government-funded and Gallup-conducted study also concluded that a main goal of education should be to provide knowledge that helps individual students obtain meaningful employment.

Nearly 100 percent of parents say they want their children to attend college, and the vast majority of students say they plan to do so. Nearly all graduates of the class of 1992 said they planned to attend postsecondary education either immediately after high school (77 percent) or at some later point (an additional 20 percent); 71 percent of them said they planned to earn a bachelor's degree. These figures generally held regardless of parents' formal education, income level, race, or ethnicity ( Choy, 1998 ). A very recent study by ACT found 77 percent of current (1999) 10th graders indicated they planned to attend a four-year institution after graduation. Of the 634,700 students surveyed by ACT, only 6 percent planned to attend a community or technical college and another 3 percent indicated they would attend a vocational or proprietary school, job training through the military, or career apprenticeship in their future ( Vocational Training News , 2000 ).

In reality, however, actual college attendance compared with wannabe college attendance is far from a perfect correlation. About 67 percent of 1997 high school completers were enrolled in college in October of that year; nearly 2/3 of them at a 4-year college and another 1/3 at a 2-year institution ( Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998 ). Levesque and colleagues ( 2000 ) found that 73 percent of 1992 graduates were enrolled in a postsecondary institution within two years of graduation. These figures are a marked increase in college enrollment rates from a decade earlier.

Despite the positive enrollment of high school graduates into higher education, studies indicate that the U. S. has a dismal record for college program completion or graduation. According to a most recent study by ACT, nearly 26 percent of all 1999 freshmen in four-year colleges and 44.9 percent of freshmen at two-year colleges did not return for a second year. Further, ACT claims that only about 51 percent of all students who attend college will eventually complete a baccalaureate degree ( Vocational Training News , 2000 ). Studies and statistics vary on the exact percentages of students who complete degree programs, usually depending on what programs (e.g., certification or license only, associate degree, baccalaureate) are considered. However, it is generally concluded that only about 50 percent of students who start in a U.S. college or university-and certainly those who attend state-supported systems-eventually will receive a baccalaureate degree ( Kirst, 1998 ).

In reviewing public survey data and some government data bases and analyzing comments from position papers and interviews, a few conclusions seem obvious: (a) The public expects its high school youth to attend college and indeed more high school graduates continue to do so each year. (b) The public expects public high schools to prepare youth for employment. (c) Huge numbers of high school graduates are not prepared to be successful at four-year colleges, and large percentages (~50 percent on a nation-wide average) will drop out before completing a liberal arts baccalaureate degree or a professional program within six years. (d) Virtually all American youth should complete a solid, high quality education that includes some career and technical education through the equivalent of two years of postsecondary education.

Student Learning Motivation, and Achievement

As commented by Howard Gardner ( 1995 ), renowned Professor of Education at Harvard University, "We've probably learned more about the mind and how it works in the last, say, 25 years than has been learned in all previous systematic study" ( p. 4 ). We simply know so much more today about how youth learn, think, remember, perceive, form associations, transfer knowledge, construct knowledge and meaning from new information, and apply knowledge to solve problems including those that are poorly structured and unfamiliar. We also know more today about how to structure curriculum and learning experiences for young people that build on our new knowledge of cognition. Further, we know more about how to motivate more students to continue to learn more. Our challenge, of course, is to figure out how to use this new knowledge to advance student achievement in schools and other learning environments (e.g., workplaces).

Business persons and educational researchers continue to say we must teach all students to new levels of higher-order thinking. This, then, is much of the impetus that undergirds the initiatives to integrate vocational and academic education. It is important to teach youth how to think, not just what to think. Any definition of higher-order critical thinking skills include the ability to think creatively, make decisions, solve problems, visualize a solution, reason, analyze, interpret, and how to continue to learn. Critical thinkers draw on a variety of resources and disciplines to solve problems, use standards of performance as a benchmark, and are intermittently independent and group reliant for assistance.

We are also beginning to learn more about adolescent and adult learning, retention, and application processes in nonschool environments. There are lessons to be learned about how learning occurs and knowledge is acquired in organizations such as businesses, nonprofits, and government that offer apprenticeship and other forms of work-based learning programs. A major finding, for example, from the learning organizational literature is that the essence of real learning-that which leads to individual and organizational changes-is social, that is, undertaken with peers and tackles real problems ( Spence, 1998 ).

Much of the recent theories and research on cognition and learning clearly support some of the pedagogical approaches historically used by career and technical educators-"learning by doing," "heads and hands," "theory and practice," and cooperative education. The theories and published works on multiple intelligence and how the brain processes information ( Gardner, 1983 ); learning styles ( Flannery, 1993 ; Griggs, 1991 ; James & Gardner, 1995 ); contextual teaching and learning ( Borko & Putnam, 1998 ; Howey, 1998 ); out of school learning ( Resnick, 1987 ); situated cognition ( Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989 ); and constructivism ( Lynch, 1997 ) are prominent examples. Conversely, career and technical education needs to set aside its historical reliance on an essentialist philosophy and habit psychology ( Prosser & Quigley, 1950 ) that helped to shape pedagogy and practice throughout its history. The premise behind Prosser's essentialism is that education should train for specific jobs rather than train for culture and that the "right habits of doing and thinking are repeated to the point that the habits developed are those of the finished skills necessary for gainful employment" ( p. 222 ).

In contrast to Prosser's essentialism of the 20th Century, the economy of the 21st Century clearly calls for thinking and culture into career and technical education. The learner needs to be able to make sense of the workplace and its context within that person's life. It isn't just "training" for specific jobs that is needed, but to make decisions, solve problems, find answers, and draw on a variety of disciplines and cultural contexts to make sense out of changes, challenges, and day-to-day operations at the workplace. Thus the learner (i.e., the worker) needs both the theory or the broad framework of that which underlies the mission and all aspects of that industry, as well as the company's and his or her role, responsibilities, and duties within the larger society. This leads to the integration of vocational and academic education, which may be among the most important recommendations emanating from federal legislation and funding in the past decade.

School Reform

Nearly every individual or group interviewed commented that it is insufficient to reform only vocational education into a new career and technical education without also making major changes in public schools, especially high schools. Poll after poll, thousands of pieces of education legislation from the 50 states, and cumulative analysis of writings of scores of educational journalists from the nation's top news magazines and newspapers all show that education, today, is the No. 1 concern of the American public. The National Conference of State Legislators expected school quality to top state legislative agendas in 1999 ( Toth, 1999 ).

The quality of the high school seems to be the principal target for the reform efforts. There is no one, single statistic, survey, or anecdote that best depicts the public's discomfort with the quality of the high school experience. The seminal event is probably the 1983 release of the report, A Nation at Risk , with its eloquent prose denigrating the "rising tide of mediocrity" of American education and call for significant reforms in education, especially in high schools ( National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983 ). Others include the relatively low scores of U. S. students on international tests of math and science ( National Institute on Educational Governance, Finance, Policymaking, & Management, 1999 ); increased reports and anecdotes citing a seemingly increase in violence in schools and alienation among large numbers of high school youth; schools that are too large and isolated from their communities and adult mentors; and too many students "wandering around the curriculum," too unfocused and lacking in planfulness.

Several of the more prominent education professional groups have theorized about or researched effective high schools. In synthesizing their work, it appears as though effective public high schools seem to have a clear vision and mission that integrates well the dual goals of providing (a) individuals (their students) with a solid education to enhance their personal income, continued learning opportunities, and responsibility in a democratic society and (b) communities with educated citizens and a workforce to enhance a competitive and productive society and a higher standard of living for all citizens. Thus, outstanding or effective high schools seem to be highly responsive to the community and highly responsible to the students' individual development. Their leaders are visionary and consider the long-term effects of a solid education, use data appropriately for assessment and direction-setting purposes, and involve adults heavily in education processes. As further elaborated in the elements of effective schools, the work of the school and the work of the community-and its families-are integrated in policy, planning, and implementation.

Common denominators from several reports that have evaluated and then reported on "outstanding" or "effective" high schools include, among others, (a) high academic standards; (b) a coherent core curriculum that integrates rigorous academic content with real-world applications; (c) authentic student assessment; (d) good human, equipment, governance and financial resources to enhance student success; (e) availability of school-supervised service- and work-based learning opportunities; (f) highly qualified teachers--the key to increased student achievement; (g) meaningful partnerships with parents, local or area colleges including community and technical colleges, business and industry, policy makers, social services, and other community groups; (h) a small-school or school-within-a-school environment where administrators and teachers know each student, often achieved with a team approach through an integrated professional, career, or applied major ( American Association of School Administrators, 1999 ; Bottoms, Presson, & Johnson, 1992 ; National Association of Secondary School Administrators, 1996 ; Toth, 1999 ; U.S. Department of Education, n.d. ).

There isn't a lot of hard, statistical or other empirical data to support most school reform programs, or at least those programs that have a national agenda or focus. This is especially true if the fundamental goal of the reform is increased student achievement as measured by standardized test scores. The denominators that are common across the various reform initiatives seem to make sense and many of their inherent components are reasonably well grounded in data. The initial review by experts who have designed, engaged in, or studied high school reform believe that all of these common denominators or key elements of reform need to be included in the redesign or reform of the American high school.

In 1999, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) published comparison data on 24 nationwide school reform initiatives. The initiatives reviewed were selected based on several criteria, but the primary factor AIR examined was the reform group's effectiveness at raising student achievement through such quantitative measures as test scores, grades, and graduation rates. Data and other evaluative measures had to be independently verifiable beyond the claims of the reform groups and its developer(s).

The review found that only a few of the 24 reform groups have available much in the way of documented positive effects on student achievement through statistically valid and reliable measures. There are three notable exceptions, two of which are focused on elementary school children and one on high school youth. The latter is High Schools That Work, which is essentially a set of strategies designed to raise the academic achievement of career-bound high school students by combining the content of the college preparatory curriculum with career and technical education. High Schools That Work is administered by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) in Atlanta with Gene Bottoms as its director.

SREB specifies the following as key practices to become affiliated with High Schools That Work: (a) High expectations for student learning; (b) rigorous career and technical courses; (c) more required academic courses; (d) learning in work environments; (e) collaboration among academic and career and technical teachers; (f) an individualized advising system; (g) active encouragement of students' interests; (h) extra help outside of school and in the summer; and (i) use of assessment and evaluation data to improve students' learning.

High Schools That Work deserves increased attention by career and technical educators and indeed by the education community as a whole. It draws into focus much of the literature and research on school reform and targets it to students who are career bound. It advocates strongly that all teachers become more engaged with educating and teaching to high standards those students who focus on career and technical studies.

Purposes of Career and Technical Education in the 21st Century High School

A "new" career and technical education is integral to reform of the American high school. The public demands and the students need relevant, contemporary career information, knowledge, and skills. Career and technical education is integral to whole school, comprehensive reform; it is not separate from it.

Drawing from recent research and literature and opinion, four purposes for high school career and technical education , for up to the first 5 to 10 years of the 21st Century, appear to be:

  1. Providing career exploration and planning
  2. Enhancing academic achievement and motivation to learn more
  3. Acquiring generic work competencies and skills useful for employment
  4. Establishing pathways for continuing education and lifelong learning

Themes and Components of High School Career and Technical Education for the First Decade of the 21st Century

There are four themes that were consistently discussed in the extant literature and that seemed to frame much of the discussion of career and technical education. These themes, or unifying representations about needed reform in high school vocational education, were almost ubiquitous in conversations with educators, business persons, and policy groups:

  1. Infuse career planning throughout the entire curriculum, from pre-K through lifelong learning. The essence of this theme is that all teachers (and parents) should be cognizant of applications of knowledge to real-world environments, especially workplaces.
  2. Ground career and technical programs in high school reform. Consistently, respondents spoke of the need to change the way in which high schools are organized, programs and curriculum are delivered, and students are taught.
  3. Improve the image and upgrade vocational education into a new and improved career and technical education. Reform initiatives must be important and substantive.
  4. Prepare high school graduates both for workplaces and continuing education. Many reports reviewed and most people interviewed for this project called for a 13th and 14th year as a minimum education benchmark for the next generation of American students.

Six components underlay the four themes and will need to prevail in all states and in all school systems if the twin goals of meeting (a) all individuals' needs for a good education and (b) community needs for good citizens and employees(ers) are to be realized at levels acceptable to various national and international education and economic sectors. The components are focused on that which is thought to bring about improvements in students' learning, achievement, motivation, and performance to prepare them well for postsecondary education and for workplaces. It is important to note also that to bring about substantive changes will involve careful attention to implications from further research and evaluation studies; much developmental work in curriculum, systems, and assessment; and vastly changed and improved teacher education, counselor education, and leadership development programs. Further the substantive changes cannot be developed and implemented by career and technical educators themselves, but will take significant partnering with other educators, business and industry, parents, and government agencies to raise the next generation of graduates.

High School Majors

Organizing high school curriculum into majors is conceptually similar to the liberal arts and professional fields that students choose in college around which to organize a program of study; choose specific courses including general, professional, and applied work; arrange internships and other experiences; complete term or senior projects; and collaborate with fellow students, advisors, faculty, and others involved with the major. It isn't just career and technical majors that would be provided to high school students, but focused study and related experiences might surround majors such as the performing arts, the liberal arts, technology, math and science, and education. The applied subject matter and experiences should comprise about 10-20 percent-3 to 4 Carnegie units of credit, comparable to the number currently completed by a student concentrating or specializing in vocational education-of the students' total high school curriculum. It is assumed that all high school students would select a major no later than the junior year or at about age 16.

The system of majors offered by a local high school would replace the current tracking and labeling system that typically identifies students as college prep, general, vocational, and special education. All students would select a major that presumably is compatible with their personal and career plans and whose interests align closely with the subject matter and experiences available through the major. Students from all majors would converge to study many academic subjects such as language arts, math, and science.

For career and technical education purposes, the majors available at any high school should be determined at the state and local levels. Policy groups and school administrators should consider the following criteria for organizing career and technical majors:

  1. A mission to provide the foundation for long-term employment and lifelong learning
  2. High growth employment industries and occupations that offer high wages, good career opportunities for graduates, and a clear pathway to advancement
  3. Requirements for a rigorous, coherent, sequenced program of study that includes high level academics, technology applications, recognized body of knowledge by industry standards, infusion of employability skills, work-based learning, and instruction in all aspects of the industry
  4. Connections with business and industry
  5. Connections with postsecondary education
  6. Recognition at key points (e.g., high school graduation) with a transcript delineating accomplishments and/or a skill certificate based on valid and reliable assessments.

There are many examples of organizational schemata around career clusters or majors throughout the United States and in other countries known for their effective vocational and technical education systems. Examples include career and technical education program areas organized around eight broad economic sectors plus Technology Education from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, 15 economic sectors identified by the National Skills Standards Board, and 16 career clusters recently identified by the U. S. Department of Education. (For further discussion of these and others from other countries, see Hoachlander, 1998 ; Lynch, 1997 ). Obviously, many of these programs or career cluster areas could be transited into bona fide high school majors using the above criteria.

Contextual Teaching and Learning

Much of the current theory and research on teaching and learning is quite supportive of the practices or pedagogy identified historically with career and technical education, especially that related to the contextualization of learning. Our academic colleagues can learn much from our history of practical applications in real-world or simulated contexts. We need to be adamant in our advocacy that abstract academic education unconnected to career or real-world contexts can only be satisfying to those students who are absolutely certain they will complete at least a four-year college degree and that this degree and/or immediate graduate study will meet their career preparation needs. Most students need context to understand, learn, and remember. Conversely, others are asking us, as career and technical educators, to step up our theory base in classrooms to reinforce better the academics that must provide the foundation for applications in workplaces and other contexts. And, thus, the continuing thrust from policy makers and various constituents to integrate academic and applied instruction.

There are major implications from cognitive science research for teaching and learning in career and technical education, as well as for some important changes that need to be made in this profession relative to its teaching force of the 21st Century. There is also an extensive body of knowledge from the wisdom of practitioners-those teachers who have demonstrated their effectiveness in classrooms and have chosen to speak about it at teachers' conferences or write about it on the worldwide web and in textbooks, trade journals, magazines, and newsletters. The Vocational Education Standards Committee of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards ( 1997 ) has published standards for highly effective career and technical teachers and provides some description of what it is those teachers should know and do to advance to high levels the achievement of their students.

The contemporary work from the scholarly and applied community (i.e., the teachers themselves) seems to reinforce the critical importance of a solid education and preparation program for teachers. The historical view of Prosser and the resulting practice, even today, that college degrees and preparation in the liberal arts and sciences are not necessary for career and technical education teachers seems to make no sense and can no longer be supported through any logical, let alone, research basis.

In 1996 and 1997, several groups converged in their thinking about preparing the teachers for 21st Century career and technical education programs. The National Association of State Directors of Vocational Technical Education Consortium and the University Council on Vocational Education (now known as the University Council for Workforce and Human Resource Education) convened task forces and prepared publications delineating the issues and proposing new themes and frameworks for revising teacher preparation. Some of their work was built on broader reform proposals or reform initiatives emanating from the wider arenas of reform in teacher education, such as the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, Holmes Group, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy. A national conference was held to discuss the challenges and issues with career and technical teacher education.

In a synthesis of various documents, Lynch ( 1997 ) summarized seven reform themes emanating from these discussion groups, reports, and conferences:

  1. Increase the supply and academic quality of those entering the career and technical education teaching force.
  2. Set high standards for teacher education programs.
  3. Improve the academic preparation of career and technical teachers.
  4. Authentically assess teacher education candidates.
  5. Collaborate with schools, social service agencies, businesses and industries, communities, and other learning environments for educational purposes.
  6. Increase funding for career and technical teacher education.
  7. Create a new vision for career and technical teacher education.

New principles for career and technical teacher education were prepared, and a model for work-based teacher education (career and technical) was designed. It was evident from all of the reports and discussions that the education and preparation of 21st Century career and technical teachers were going to have to change significantly for them to be able to work effectively in 21st Century programs and increase the academic and career achievement of their students. Five additional implications were identified:

  1. All teachers in career and technical education should have at least a baccalaureate degree prior to beginning to teach in high schools (and postsecondary schools).
  2. Collaborative processes must be put in place to prepare well the teachers of tomorrow's work force.
  3. A broader conceptualization of work-based teacher education is warranted.
  4. Each state (or possibly a region) needs to establish a commission on professional development to focus on the qualitative improvement of the professional development of career and technical educators.
  5. All need to work toward increasing the culture of lifelong learning and lifelong professional development with all aspects of the teaching and education profession ( Lynch, 1997 ).

It is becoming so very clear in the educational literature that the professional competence of the teacher is directly correlated with the success of the student. Simply put, teachers who know what to do and put this knowledge into practice produce students who also know what to do and put their knowledge into practice

Work-Based Learning

A third essential component in improving and developing reformed programs of high school career and technical education is to design and include quality, work-based learning experiences as an integral part of the curriculum for all students with career and technical majors. Most educators and businesspersons also consider it important to include work-based learning experiences for all students in workplaces related to other high school majors as well (e.g., the performing arts, math and science, technology).

Contemporary work-based learning is grounded in teaching and learning research emanating from the cognitive sciences, psychology, and pedagogy. Consistent with research from these various disciplines, work-based learning blends into an integrated curriculum the mental and tactile, theoretical and applied, and academic and vocational. This blending appears-for most students most of the time-to result in increased retention of knowledge, deeper understanding of subject matter, and the ability to apply (i.e., transfer) knowledge and skills in ill-structured environments. The effectiveness of blended classroom- and work-based activities also draws strength from the psychological and pedagogical principles underlying constructivism, contextual learning, the teaching of concepts and subjects through a variety of methods based on students' preferred learning styles, and authentic assessment. Much of what we know about effective work-based learning has been gleaned through research on learning and training in workplaces.

In 1995, the U. S. Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) described work-based learning as "learning that results from work experience that is planned to contribute to the intellectual and career development of students" ( p. 3 ). It is critical to emphasize the intellectual development of students in that all school-sponsored activities must have solid education objectives and that the work experiences are planned . Based on OTA's study, some research studies emanating from the federal School to Work office, and the wisdom of practitioners, an operational definition of work-based learning has surfaced

Work-based learning is an educational approach that uses workplaces to structure learning experiences that contribute to the intellectual, social, academic, and career development of students and supplements these with school activities that apply, reinforce, refine, or extend the learning that occurs at a work site. By so doing, students develop attitudes, knowledge, skills, insights, habits, and associations from both work and school experiences and are able to connect learning with real-life work activities ( Lynch & Harnish, 1998, p. 131 ).

Results from recent studies examining use of structured work-based learning approaches in education provide positive indication of its impact on student achievement, motivation, and educational continuation ( Bailey & Merritt, 1997 ; OTA, 1995 ; Phelps 1998 ; Steinberg, 1998 ). In much of the research and evaluation studies, there appears to be a correlation between the positive student outcomes and the structure that the school and employers put into the work experiences. When the goals, school curriculum and work-site experiences, and staff support are well planned, implemented, and evaluated relative to the education and career goals and the integrity of the school program-and to some extent, vice versa with the place of employment-the outcomes for all are very positive ( Goldberger, Kazis, & O'Flanagan, 1994 ; Lynch & Harnish, 1998 ; Steinberg, 1998 ).

Authentic Assessment

Several years ago, the Department of Education estimated that American schoolchildren take 100 million standardized tests a year with an average of 100 multiple-choice questions, and thus they fill in 10 billion bubbles annually ( Caudell, 1996 ). This is at a cost of at least $200 million for these tests alone. Examples of the major tests typically used throughout the U. S. include the Stanford Achievement Tests known best as the Stanford 9, the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, and the ACT and Education Testing Service's SAT-used primarily by colleges and universities as one criteria for selecting "qualified" students to admit.

Compatible with the high standards rhetoric and legislated policies, many states are now actively developing their own tests of academic achievement. At least 24 states have recently introduced tests that high school seniors must pass in order to get a high school diploma. Related, 48 states are setting higher academic standards and 34 states have or are developing relatively high stakes tests in the earlier grades and/or high school subjects in the core curriculum ( Chase, 1999 ).

What is perhaps most troublesome about the test mania is fourfold: (1) Much of the practice of standardized testing flies in the face of knowledge about student learning and effective teaching. (2) The bubbles on the tests don't always measure what youngsters need to know, the critical thinking they need to master, problems they ought to be able to solve, and the skills we-as a society-value that they acquire. (3) Standardized tests are not perceived by many segments of the population as fair in that, despite gains, women and minorities consistently under perform, especially on SAT scores. (4) Standardized tests are increasingly being used or touted as the only measure that really counts in assessing student achievement.

It is proposed herein that career and technical educators give increased attention in the first decade of the 2000s to posit forcefully for the increased use of multiple, authentic assessments to measure student achievement. It is not that we should argue that standardized tests of academic achievement are not appropriate, but that they are not enough. Compatible with Breaking Ranks: Changing an American Institution ( National Association of Secondary School Principals, 1996 ), career and technical educators need to assure that high schools "assess the academic progress of students in a variety of ways so that a clear and valid picture emerges of what [students] know and are able to do" ( p. 54 ).

Examples of multiple assessments-and thus reflected on the students' transcripts-typically include "scores" or evaluative commentary from portfolios, demonstrations, oral and written reports, work-based activities, student productions, term papers or projects, essays, student critiques of literary and technical work, paper and pencil tests, employers and teachers formal and informal observations, case study analyses, and so forth. Assessments should represent a history (i.e., over time) of learning, organized progress of accomplishment, a direct and valid outgrowth of the standards and objectives set for the curriculum or learning event, and input from multiple human resources. Learners themselves should have input into the assessment processes and some selection of assessment instruments.

Increasingly, authentic assessments are being developed specifically from the knowledge and skills needed in workplaces. For example, thousands of high school students, many of them career and technical education students, have been tested in the past few years with WorkKeys. Developed by ACT in consultation with educators, employers, and those involved directly with employment training and human resource development, WorkKeys provides assessment profiles of students' skills in applied mathematics, applied technology, listening, locating information, observation, reading for information, teamwork, and writing. The system and assessments from ACT also provide a job analysis system that determines the levels of skills required for competent performance in specific jobs, as well as an assessment profile and level of competence of people's employability skills relative to those jobs. Nationwide, nearly 14,000 companies have used WorkKeys for purposes of initial hiring, training, and employment ( Activity, 1999 ).

Often a license or a performance certificate is awarded if the student demonstrates successful mastery of the curriculum and the requisite career and technical skills. For example, Cisco Networking Academy Program teaches and certifies high school (and college) students to design, build, and maintain computer networks. This certification is based on student mastery of industry standards through various computer-based demonstrations, design and network management projects, and internships. This arena of authentic, work-related assessment has great potential for measuring student achievement and should be advocated strongly by career and technical educators and included in their accountability reports to school administrators and policy groups.

Career Academies

Several business persons and educators interviewed and some recent studies support revitalizing vocational high schools or area vocational centers into career academies and changing names and descriptors accordingly. A high school career academy is typically a separate or distinct building near or distant from the comprehensive high school(s) OR a "school within a school" with a separate wing, floor, or section identified with the career academy within the comprehensive high school.

In reviewing recent evaluative studies, it appears as though successful career academies (and, incidentally, academies identified with the classical curriculum, as well) throughout the country have at least as many as five characteristics in common: (a) Clusters of students who share many of the same classes each day and have some of the same teachers from year to year; (b) sufficient depth and breadth of academic courses that meet high school graduation and college entrance requirements; (c) career and technical courses sufficient to comprise a career major; (d) work-based learning experiences built into the curriculum; and (e) a group of business persons who advise the school district on important components of the program such as curriculum, work-based learning, financial aspects, specific courses to offer, and equipment needs.

In current career academies, the teachers from both academic and career and technical fields usually teach the same group of students for two to three years, engage in group curriculum and program planning, collectively advise the students relative to career and education goals, and focus the curriculum around a particular industry. Typically, in today's academies, about 50 students are enrolled in a particular major at each grade level. The academies are designed to ensure that their graduates are academically and technically proficient, have marketable job skills, and are academically prepared to enroll in postsecondary education ( Dayton, 1999 ; Kemple, 1997 ; Raby, 1995 ; Stern, Dayton, & Raby, 1998 ; personal interviews).

Some of the academies are directly sponsored by business groups or professional associations, such as Academies of Finance in New York City, which was developed in partnership with American Express, and subsequently joined other companies to create the National Academy Foundation. Other types of academies include, for example, New York City's Academy of Travel and Tourism, Academy of Public Service, and the Academy of Manufacturing Services. Philadelphia has over 4,000 students enrolled in academies in 28 high schools. The National Academy Foundation serves over 6,000 students in more than 100 high schools throughout the country. California's 200 academies serve over 10,000 high school students in 25 career fields such as electronics, health, business technology, computers, agribusiness, media, environmental science, retailing, graphic arts, and law and government ( Raby, 1995 ; Stern et al., 1998 ).

There isn't a lot of large scale, quantifiable, longitudinal or national data that prove career academies (or similarly focused themed high schools) are causing significant increases in student achievement as measured by standardized tests. In general, however, the collective findings on other measures, especially from interviews with and survey data from students and teachers about their perceived satisfaction with the academies, have been fairly impressive. Student attendance is higher; discipline problems are rarer; there seems to be tremendous esprit de corps in the schools (among teachers and students) and a connection with the essence of the school; a diminishment of racial, ethnic, and gender stereotyping; a feeling of safety and security among all who studied and worked there; cooperative (i.e., team) work projects that were rigorous and drew on both academics and work-based activities; and a frequent description of the school environment as a feeling of "family"-this coming from students, teachers, administrators, and the business partners ( Katz, Jackson, Reeves, & Benson, 1995 ; Raby, 1995 ).

Researchers at Teacher's College, Columbia University studied post graduation activities and found that graduates of career magnets earned at least a third more college credits than graduates from comprehensive high schools, chose a college major one or two years after graduation, cut class less often, studied more, and held good employment records. Interesting findings were that graduates engaged in less high risk behaviors (e.g., smoking and drinking less, becoming pregnant or causing pregnancy) and the programs seem to have a positive effect on families ( Crain, Allen, Thaler, Sullivan, Zellman, Little, & Quigley, 1999 ). Based on these findings (and others), Allen ( 1999 ) proposed that career programs be reframed within the context of adolescent identity development, in contrast to relying primarily on work-related skills development.

In analyzing published or about to be published data from several studies of career academies, Stern et al. ( 1998 ) concluded:

The evidence to date…indicates that students in career academies have been more academically successful while in high school. The evidence on enrollment in postsecondary education is more limited, but on balance suggests that the academy graduates are more likely than non-academy graduates to attend college. There is little evidence that career academies give their graduates any immediate advantage in the labor market. In other words, entry-level job training is not what career academies seem to be delivering. Instead, they appear to be helping students strengthen their academic performance, which may improve their career options some years later ( p.18 ).

Career academies and career magnates do seem to hold great promise for many high school students, their teachers, and indeed the reform of high schools themselves. It simply makes sense that focused study with like-minded students and teachers, in student-selected interesting and applied subjects, in a small and safe school environment, grounded in adolescent identity development, devoid of social class and race distinctions, and surrounded by supportive teachers and community partners would truly enhance learning. Most of the academies described in the literature are well respected in their communities, well regarded (and sometimes partially financed) by business or industry, and are considered rigorous and of high quality. The greatest changes in students who attend and graduate from career academies seems to be in their development of much more positive attitudes with increased interest in learning, planning for the future, awareness of career opportunities and related education expectations, self confidence, and regard for the academy and its supportive environment(s).

Today's vocational high schools or area/regional vocational schools ought to consider transforming their current programs into career academies early in the 21st Century. But, this will need to be substantive transformation-no mere name change or curricular tinkering on the margins. To be successful these academies are going to have to be credible to their constituents (students, parents, community, businesses, higher education) and serve students successfully (i.e., prepare them both for college and for careers). A school-wide age-appropriate career development program, a rigorous program of studies surrounding career majors and a framework for tech prep, and implementing the characteristics identified with the currently successful career academies must underpin the development of these new 21st Century career academies.

Tech Prep

The original design for tech prep emanated from the thinking of Dale Parnell in his 1984 text, Neglected Majority . Parnell, known as the father of tech prep, called for a significant reform of vocational education based on his observation and some data that "voc ed" had been relegated in many high school systems as a track for the "educational have-nots" ( Hull & Gravelle, 1998 ). Schools in general were neglecting the learning styles, academic needs, and goals of the majority of their students to concentrate resources and teaching methods toward abstract learners who, of course, were or should be college bound. According to Hull and Gravelle ( 1998 ), the 1980s saw vocational education in most schools and colleges as "an educational dead end, with few options [for students] to move laterally or upwardly. With few exceptions, students entering (or being placed in) vocational education…had poor academic skills" ( pp. 20-21 ).

The fundamental premise of tech prep was and is that all high school graduates are to be prepared with the foundations in both academic and technical course work to matriculate into postsecondary education and enter high skill/high wage occupations. This, then, was to be the crux in the reform of vocational education.

Summarizing her years of research and that of others as well as some of the theoretical literature, Bragg ( 1995 ) from NCRVE identified six core concepts that formed and were continuing to form the basis for developing and implementing solid programs of tech prep:

  1. Tech prep must be grounded in an integrated, authentic, and rigorous core curriculum at both the secondary and postsecondary levels.
  2. There must be formal articulation between secondary and postsecondary schools.
  3. Integrate work-based learning experiences into the curriculum.
  4. Establish tech prep as a standards-driven, performance-based educational initiative.
  5. Tech prep is to be an educational vehicle accessible to all students.
  6. Collaboration among stakeholders is essential. ( p. 299 ).

Today, the concept and design of tech prep seems to be in good standing with both the business and education communities. No one interviewed, nor did any literature reviewed, seriously challenge the philosophy or intent of tech prep and all agreed that it is responsive to both education and business/industry objectives.

Despite its popularity with both businesspersons and educators, there does not appear as yet to be evidence of clear, direct cause and effect quantifiable data on the effectiveness of tech prep in terms of its impact on students. About 8 percent of students nationwide participated in something called tech prep in 1995. This totaled 737,635 students in 1,029 tech prep consortia (high school, community college, and business partnerships). These consortia included about 70 percent of all school districts, which in turn serve 88 percent of all American high school students ( Hershey, Silverberg, Owens, & Hulsey 1998 ). About 58 percent of 1995 tech prep graduates went on to postsecondary education in October of that year. Presumably a significant percentage of these would not have gone to college that fall had it not been for the tech prep initiatives. Thus, tech prep probably has contributed to the overall increase in college attendance by American high school graduates, especially from those who concentrated in career and technical education.

Probably the major problem in assessing tech prep's impact on measured student achievement and other factors is that tech prep means quite different things in quite different places. As pointed out in The Final Report of the National Tech-Prep Evaluation ( Hershey et al., 1998 ), local consortia of schools emphasized different elements of tech prep differently. Only about 10 percent created structured, career-focused, comprehensive programs that integrated academic and career and technical courses, moved to broadly defined career clusters or majors, and grouped students together for career and academic classes. Other tech prep consortia enhanced existing high school vocational programs or advanced just one ingredient of tech prep, such as developing an articulation agreement with a community college or promoting more applied instruction with academic teachers.

Hershey and colleagues did conclude that the creation of tech prep consortia had important benefits such as strengthening local collaboration among educators, increasing emphasis on career guidance in schools, focusing attention on applied forms of academic instruction, and bringing employers more in contact with schools. They emphasized strongly that policymakers make available considerably more financial and other resources to strengthen the development of challenging career-focused programs of study and to provide the necessary services to assure that students are successful in them.

The findings and conclusion of the 1995 national study reinforced the earlier findings by Hayward and Benson ( 1993 ) who reported that those tech prep consortia that had been operating five years or longer were advancing greatly in their scope and objectives by getting beyond just articulating existing courses and/or merely providing advanced placement for high school tech prep graduates at postsecondary institutions. The consortia that were truly committed to the goals of tech prep were engaging in serious curriculum development, attacking many components designed to improve programs in both secondary and postsecondary institutions, and redirecting core academic courses along a career path.

In summary, tech prep appears to be a popular and viable program and curriculum design with school administrators, policy groups, (i.e., legislators), businesspersons, and the general public. Nearly all interviewed for this project promoted the 2+2 plan to articulate high school and community college studies and wished for more collaboration between the two turfs. Effective tech prep programs that will result in improved student achievement, increased college attendance by more high school graduates, and a solid career and technical education for more youths will take time and commitment to develop from secondary and postsecondary stakeholders, considerable human and financial resources, and careful adherence to the concepts for tech prep as identified by Bragg ( 1995 ) and others.


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This article has been extracted from New Directions for High School Career and Technical Education in the 21st Century (2000) published by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Career, and Vocational Education, The Ohio State University, Columbus. The original manuscript was prepared while its author was on assignment to the federal Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, from July 8, 1998, through June 30, 1999. Authority for the assignment was an agreement through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.


RICHARD L. LYNCH is the former Director of the School of Leadership and Lifelong Learning and is currently Professor and Co-Director of the Occupational Research Group at The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-4812 [E-mail: rlynch@coe.uga.edu ].