Thursday, November 14, 2019
Tech Prep :: Education School Careers Essays
Tech Prep Tech prep has become more widely accepted by educators and the business community as real changes have been made in curriculum, courses, and programs. However, the jury is still outabout whether the anticipated student, school, and community outcomes are being realized. This essay examines the extent to which tech prep is succeeding as a unique effort, living up to the claims that have been made for it. Over the years, educators have been challenged by a number of federal, state, and local initiativesthat profess to result in better educational outcomes for students. Highly marketed at their inception, many of the initiatives ultimately fade into obscurity, some absorbed as part of otherprograms. Examinations of tech prep and its relationship to school-to-work initiatives point to thedistinctions that make each of the two programs unique and highlight the characteristics that makethem similar. Program focus is the most distinguishing feature that differentiates tech prep from school to work.Tech preps focus is primarily on school-based learning, whereas school-to-work programs alsoinclude work-based learning and linkages between the two. The distinction is less clear when thecore elements required for tech prep vary among tech prep consortia, as they are reported to do(Owens 1996). For example, when tech prep adds elements that include work-based and careerguidance components, it becomes similar to school-to-work, which may explain why someeducators are seeing little or no difference between the two. Of the 100 persons surveyed at the1996 American Vocational Association Convention, however, only 15 percent saw tech prep andschool-to-work as being exactly the same (Bragg 1996). Most of the surveyed tech prep consortia did not see the two efforts as synonymous, but perceived tech prep as a component of school to work: 35% of the respondents considered techprep to be the foundation for school to work; 50% considered tech prep to be under the school-to-work umbrella (ibid). However, for funding as well as program issues, most local techprep coordinators believe that tech prep should retain its unique identity to ensure that thebenefits of its processes and procedures are not lost or duplicated by school-to-work (Bragg et al.1997). Survey responses from 42 of 50 state directors of vocational-technical education showedagreement with the view that tech prep is one option within school to work and that its identityneeds to remin strong (Dykman 1995). Imprecision in defining the two reforms can create confusion and frustration among allstakeholders. At one of the five field sites studied during the 1996-1997 academic year, forexample, tech prep was "viewed as a premier approach to STW for more academically talentedstudents, incorporating both school-based and work-based components.