OVAE: Office of Vocational and Adult Education
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Promising Practices in Vocational–Technical Education
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Trident Area Consortium for the Technologies, Charleston, South Carolina

Type of School Community College – – Tech Prep Consortium

Type of Location Urban/Rural

Key Features

  • 1998 American Association of Community Colleges' Parnell Tech Prep Award winner

The Trident Area Consortium for the Technologies includes 4 school districts, Trident Technical College (TTC), a multi–district Career School, a 4–year college, 3 universities, 3 Chambers of Commerce, 3 representatives from Employment Security Commission offices, and representatives from business and industry. The consortium serves approximately 91,000 students, grades K–12. The consortium vision is to offer students an applied sequence of courses with career–related learning experiences, which will provide a viable alternative to a college prep curriculum. School curricula – – which will no longer be tracked – – will have interchangeable programs of study and defined career majors, which connect to postsecondary majors, for 11th and 12th graders. The consortium has 42 courses which articulate from secondary to postsecondary schools.

The consortium has identified 4 career clusters: Business and Information Systems; Engineering, Industrial and Environmental Technology; Communications and the Arts; and Health, Human and Public Services. School districts are in the process of restructuring curricula to align with the 4 career clusters.

Selected Accomplishments

  • Partnerships:

Consortium members include secondary, postsecondary, and business partners. Five committees – – Steering, Articulation, Guidance, Public Relations, and Applied Academics – – meet regularly to plan and implement consortium activities.

The tech prep consortium assesses labor market needs through an annual "Employer Follow–Up Survey" and through employer participation on Program Advisory Committees. Labor market information is provided by the Employment Security Commission, the Chambers of Commerce, and the Council of Governments. The consortium is also contracting with a researcher at a local college to provide a community needs assessment.

Employers routinely provide input and participate in decisions concerning the tech prep program through participation on the Governing Board, Steering Committee, and School–to–Work Committee. They serve as host sites for Educators in Industry courses, participate in Career Awareness Days, provide input into decisions regarding curriculum at both the secondary and community college levels, and assist in designing and providing work–related experiences such as shadowing (observation) , mentoring, and internships.

  • Curriculum:

The consortium's articulation committee, chaired by the College's Dean of Business Technology, oversees the articulation process. The Technical Advanced Placement (TAP) program involved curriculum review, revision, and alignment, resulting in 42 courses which can be articulated. The articulation program has been cited throughout the state as a model program.

At the secondary level, the general (neither college–prep nor vocational) track has been eliminated and replaced with a more rigorous tech prep career path which includes applied academic courses in math, science, and English.

The college, consortium and the Robert Bosch Corporation are involved in a program that results in an accelerated associate degree/youth apprenticeship. The consortium developed a recruiting system which identifies potential apprenticeship candidates early in their high school years. Students apply to their guidance counselors and undergo an extensive interview process. All course work for the program is taught at the college in coordination with Bosch. Upon completion of this program, students receive their high school diploma, an associate degree, and a journeyman's certification – – all within 13 years.

TTC is involved in the statewide National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence, a curriculum initiative designed to restructure engineering technology programs and to better prepare students entering these programs. The college is also developing an introductory manufacturing course for area high schools, and is planning a manufacturing summer camp for middle school students.

  • Marketing/Communications:

The consortium marketed tech prep extensively through the preparation of videos and brochures designed to reach parents and students, numerous presentations, as well as use of public service announcements, newspaper and Chamber articles. The college has produced program specific videos in the areas of Telecommunications, Criminal Justice, Hospitality, Business Technology, and Engineering and Industrial Technology to expose students to careers in these areas.

  • Institutional Commitment/Staff Development:

Staff development activities are planned and conducted on a consortium wide basis. During the 1996 program year, 13 graduate level courses ranging from applied academics to computer technology were offered to area teachers, counselors, and administrators.

Many resources of the college are committed to the consortium. These resources include the administration's support, assistance from the Center for Faculty and Staff Development and Support to develop multimedia presentations, the efforts of the marketing department to develop promotional materials, college-wide tours for secondary teachers and students, as well as faculty and staff participation on tech prep committees, professional activities, and conferences. The college also provided use of distance learning facilities for the consortium to conduct an interactive video session on applied academics with Dan Hull and other representatives from the Center for Occupational Research and Development.

  • Guidance and Student Support:

The Consortium Guidance Committee has worked collaboratively to develop comprehensive, sequential guidance plans for the school districts based upon 4 components: personal, social, career, and educational. Individual career planners are kept in each student's guidance folder and are used in grades 6-12 to outline a student's career goals through the postsecondary level. In 1994, a local participating school district received the U.S. Army's Planning for Life Award as one of the two most exemplary career development programs in the country; another school district received the same award in 1994 and 1995 as one of the top 10 career development programs in the country.

  • Evaluation:

The consortium's annual plan contains measurable objectives, and the Steering Committee monitors progress towards meeting these objectives. The State Department of Education and the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education conduct biennial evaluations. Both secondary and postsecondary graduates are tracked for 5 years after graduation to monitor career selections vis–a–vis career majors and to measure salary levels. Student satisfaction is measured at the postsecondary level through the annual Student Evaluation of Course and Instructor. Employer feedback is also obtained through employer surveys and program advisory committees.


Judy Everett
Director of Development and Community Relations
Trident Technical College
P. O. Box 118067
Charleston, SC 29423-8067
843-574-6109 fax

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Last Modified: 10/16/2007