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OVAE: Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
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Tech Prep Education

Tech Prep education is a significant innovation in the education reform movement in the United States. Tech Prep was given major emphasis in the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act of 1990 and was amended in the School to Work Opportunities Act of 1994.

Tech Prep education is a 4+2 , 3+2 or a 2+2 planned sequence of study in a technical field beginning as early as the ninth year of school. The sequence extends through two years of postsecondary occupational education or an apprenticeship program of at least two years following secondary instruction, and culminates in an associate degree or certificate.

Tech Prep is an important school-to-work transition strategy, helping all students make the connection between school and employment.

Elements of a Tech Prep Program

The Perkins law requires that Tech Prep programs have seven elements:

  • an articulation agreement between secondary and postsecondary consortium participants;
  • a 2+2 , 3+2 or a 4+2 design with a common core of proficiency in math, science, communication, and technology;
  • a specifically developed Tech Prep curriculum;
  • joint in-service training of secondary and postsecondary teachers to implement the Tech Prep curriculum effectively;
  • training of counselors to recruit students and to ensure program completion and appropriate employment;
  • equal access of special populations to the full range of Tech Prep programs;
  • preparatory services such as recruitment, career and personal counseling, and occupational assessment.

States are required to give priority consideration to Tech Prep programs that do the following:

  • Offer effective employment placement.
  • Transfer to 4-year baccalaureate programs.
  • Are developed in consultation with business, industry, labor unions, and institutions of higher education that award baccalaureate degrees.
  • Address dropout prevention and re-entry and the needs of special populations.

Outcomes for Students

Student outcomes include the following:

  • An associate degree or a 2-year certificate.
  • Technical preparation in at least one field of engineering technology, applied science, mechanical, industrial, or practical art or trade, or agriculture, health, or business.
  • Competence in math, science, and communication.
  • Employment.

Tech Prep Success

Each state receives Federal funds to implement Tech Prep programs. There were approximately 1,029 Tech Prep consortia in 1995 but the number increases yearly. In 1995, 737,635 students in the United States were involved in Tech Prep.

During the past eight years (1991-98), eight Tech Prep consortia received the US Department of Education's Excellence in Tech Prep Award." Those eight are as follows"

  • Tri-County Technical College and Partnership for Academic and Career Education (PACE) in Pendleton, South Carolina
  • Portland Community College and Portland Area Vocational Technical Education Consortium (PAVTEC) in Portland, Oregon
  • Indian River Community College and Quad County Tech Prep Consortium in Fort Pierce, Florida
  • State Center Tech Prep Consortium (SCTPC) in Fresno, California
  • Mississippi County Tech Prep Consortium in Osceola, Arkansas
  • Miami Valley Tech Prep Consortium in Dayton, Ohio
  • South King County Tech Prep Consortium, Auburn, Washington
  • Danville Area Community College District 507 Tech Prep Consortium, Danville, Illinois

The Department also funded nine model Tech Prep sites:

  • Consortium to Restructure Education through Academic and Technological Excellence (CREATE), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;
  • Los Angeles Area Tech Prep Consortium, West Covina, California;
  • Mt. Hood Regional Cooperative Consortium, Gresham, Oregon;
  • Partnership for Academic and Career Education (PACE), Pendleton, South Carolina;
  • Rhode Island Tech Prep Associate Degree Program, Warwick, Rhode Island;
  • Richmond County Tech Prep, Hamlet, North Carolina;
  • Seattle Tech Prep, Seattle, Washington;
  • Southern Maryland Education Consortium in LaPlata, Maryland; and
  • Center for Occupational Research and Development, Waco, Texas (includes sites in Texas, South Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Michigan, and Oregon).
For Information

U.S. Department of Education
Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
Division of Vocational Technical Education
Phone: 202-260-7744
E-mail: Chris Lyons

Last Modified: 06/06/2023