OVAE: Office of Vocational and Adult Education
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Tech Prep Education

Tech Prep, which began in the early 1980s as a small, locally driven high school improvement strategy, has grown into a major national strategy for improving students' academic knowledge and technical skills. As defined in the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act (Perkins), Tech Prep is a sequenced program of study that combines at least two years of secondary and two years of postsecondary education. It is designed to help students gain academic knowledge and technical skills, and often earn college credit for their secondary coursework. Programs are intended to lead to an associate's degree or a certificate in a specific career field, and ultimately, to high wage, high skill employment or advanced postsecondary training.

To date, roughly 47% of the nation's high schools (or 7,400 high schools) offer one or more Tech Prep programs. Nearly every community and technical college in the nation participates in a Tech Prep consortium, as do many four-year colleges and universities, private businesses, and employer and union organizations.

Research on the effectiveness of Tech Prep programs is inconclusive. State evaluations in Texas and New York found some evidence that Tech Prep improved students' grade point averages, lowered dropout, reduced absences, increased high school completion, and improved postsecondary enrollment. However, these evaluations did not find evidence that Tech Prep improved students' scores on standardized academic achievement tests, and findings were mixed on whether Tech Prep improved students' postsecondary achievement or labor market outcomes. The last national evaluation of Tech Prep programs, conducted in 1997, found that Tech Prep programs were not always implemented as envisioned in the legislation, perhaps lessening their impact on student outcomes.

The Department provides funding under the Perkins Act to help states and local educational agencies implement effective Tech Prep programs. The Act also supports the Tech Prep Demonstration Program, which currently provides funds to nine consortia that operate Tech Prep programs at high schools located on community college campuses. These programs support students' transitions to postsecondary education through dual enrollment, access to advanced facilities and labs, and exposure to college life.

Program Memorandums

  • Estimated FY 2006 State Allocations under the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act
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Research and Evaluation

Noteworthy Practices

Additional Links

See the archived Tech Prep Education page with dated research material.

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Last Modified: 10/16/2007