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Promising Practices in Vocational Technical Education
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Danville Area Community College District 507 Tech Prep Consortium, Illinois

Type of School: Community College -- Tech Prep Consortium

Type of Location: Rural

Key Features

  • 1998 American Association of Community Colleges Parnell Tech Prep Award winner
  • 1998 U.S. Department of Education's Excellence in Tech Prep Education Award winner

    This 2+2 program provides tech prep youth apprenticeship opportunities for students during the junior and senior years in high school and continues through at least a community college degree. The program combines worksite-based learning and school-based learning. It requires business/education partnerships and student/parent commitment.

    This tech prep initiative is business-driven, derived from links among employer, educator, and employee. The Apprenticeship programs allow secondary or postsecondary entrance. The Fast-track Apprenticeship provides an Associate in Applied Science degree in 12 months, coupled with intensive worksite training. The consortium supports comprehensive business-driven, custom-designed curriculum reform, extensive staff development, career activities from 8th grade on (career awareness, Career Expo, Job Shadowing, Job Fair), aggressive recruitment, and total commitment from partners.

    Consortium provides student training through the Student Leadership Academy.

    Consortium provides worksite supervisor training through Worksite Training Workshops.

    Consortium provides instructor mentors to monitor the postsecondary apprentices' academic and worksite progress.

    Consortium provides occupational program competency guarantees.

    Businesses pay community college tuition.

    Businesses provide paid worksite experience for the duration of the apprenticeship.

    Businesses guarantee full-time employment for apprentices upon their successful completion.

    Participants are targeted for advanced-level positions in the business.

Selected Accomplishments

  • Partnerships:
  • The WorkForce Challenge began in 1990 when local area businesses approached educators about preparing well-qualified job applicants. Intensive work by representatives from business, labor, education and the community led to this tech prep program. The federally mandated School-to-Work program led to the development of Illinois' statewide Education to Careers (ETC) program, which was based on the WorkForce Challenge model. Danville Area Community College (DACC) belongs to the East Central Illinois Education to Careers Partnership. The ETC is a comprehensive reform system and tech prep is a program within that system. The Danville Area Community College District 507 Tech Prep Consortium consists of the district's 12 high schools, the area's vocational center, and the college.

    The consortium has apprenticeships with 22 sites in 5 career clusters: manufacturing technology, accounting, banking, consumer service management, and health occupations. Apprenticeships use a 5-point plan developed using Continuous Quality Improvement/Total Quality Management tools. Each industry designs its own apprenticeship and develops the curriculum with the education partners. All apprentices enter the Student Leadership Academy to empower the high school students to market tech prep to their peers and the community. Training includes leadership skills, communications skills, presentation skills, team building, and general information about the program.

    The college, in cooperation with the Krupp Gerlach Company, offers the opportunity for up to 30 people to earn an Associates Degree in one year -- with fully paid tuition, books and fees. Students participating on the Fast-track Apprenticeship work 20 hours per week, and earn two salary increases during the year. There is potential for full time employment after completing the program; and the time worked applies toward benefit related waiting periods.

    Mervis Industries, Inc., has established the Mervis Industries Tech Prep Scholarship through the Danville Area Community College Foundation. This $1,200 scholarship is granted to a tech prep student to be used for tuition and fees.

  • Curriculum:
  • Through apprenticeship focus groups, representatives from worksites work directly with occupational course faculty to develop standards for instruction; identify necessary work skills that must be incorporated into the classroom; and determine documentation required to assess students' worksite progress. Through this partnership, 39 tech prep course sequences have been developed from 9th grade through the A.A.S. degree in 5 career areas. Each sequence has required academic and vocational courses as well as required worksite training for which the apprentices receive high school credit.

    Applied Mathematics, Applied Communications, and Applied Biology/Chemistry curricula have been purchased for use in each high school, with inservice training provided. Tech prep funds have also been available for substitute teacher reimbursement for teachers needing time to work on applied academics, integration, and worksite learning activities.

    DACC has articulated 25 courses so that tech prep students can receive college credit for skills learned in high school. The college also has articulation agreements with 4-year institutions in Illinois and Indiana, and with Lakeview School of Nursing.

  • Marketing/Communications:
  • The East Central Illinois Education to Careers Partnership Outreach Committee promotes tech prep. The consortium publishes a newsletter and garners extensive local media coverage. Business partners take an active marketing role: hosting business tours and roundtable discussions; making presentations; providing scholarships; and participating in career activities. Other examples of marketing include: career awareness videos; apprenticeship videos; Internet Web page; conference presentations; articles in high school newspapers; direct promotion to potential students; TV announcements; mini-commercials; brochures; scrapbooks; T-shirt design; Academy alumni reception; and plaques.

  • Institutional Commitment/Staff Development:
  • DACC's commitment to tech prep is evidenced by the college president serving as Co-Chairperson of the East Central Illinois Education to Careers Partnership. In addition, the college pays half of the coordinator's position and is picking up the full funding of this position next year.

    The program continues to be a model for development of state school-to-work programs. The state selected the consortium to be a model demonstration site for rural tech prep, postsecondary tech prep, and youth apprenticeships.

    The consortium provides extensive business-driven staff development about integrating workplace applications and employability skills into the classroom for all secondary and postsecondary educators. The week-long Educator Leadership Academy ensures partnership among secondary and postsecondary educators and business partners; educators spend three days at a worksite to learn about workforce needs.

    Staff development activities include Continuous Quality Improvement training, the U. S. Department of Labor SCANS employability skills, WorkKeys, team-teaching, interdivisional instruction, national speakers, educator tours, the Educator Leadership Academy, and presentations by business partners on local businesses and the economy.

  • Guidance and Student Support:
  • DACC offers extensive student support services through the Career Services Center, Career Services Department, Counseling and Academic Advisement, Opportunities Program, and Student Special Needs. Career awareness activities at the secondary level include videos, an eighth grade program, Career Expo, Job Shadowing, 11th/12th grade coop, extended campus, and Job Fair. The Student Leadership Academy is designed to empower students and give them the skills necessary for success in postsecondary education and the workplace; it includes peer tutoring by a DACC student.

  • Evaluation:
  • The consortium has been involved with three major benchmarking projects. The first, University of Illinois Student Recruiting Benchmarking, led to the development of the Student Leadership Academy. The second is a National Center for Research in Vocational Education project called "The Community College and Beyond: How Tech Prep/School-to-Work Affects Students." The third is a CORD/Gallup Organization School-to-Work Index and Improvement Program.

For more information, contact:

Debra Mills
Title:Education to Careers/Tech Prep Director
Address: Danville Area Community College
2000 East Main Street
Danville, IL 61832-5199
Phone: 217-443-8582
Fax: 217-443-8560
Danville Area Community College

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Last Modified: 10/16/2007