Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Success Is in the Details

Magazine article Vocational Education Journal

Success Is in the Details

Article excerpt

So you have a tech prep program at your high school? Congratulations. Who knows about it? Well, all of the students in the courses that connect with the local community college. That's important, but what about the other 90 percent of the student body? There are posters hanging in the halls and flyers in the counseling center. What if I don't even know I am a potential student? Then the guidance counselor can discuss the option when it's time to think about graduation.

But might that just be too late?

Tech prep in any of its many forms around Oregon has the potential to change the fare of postsecondary education. Rather than being the exceptional path, it could be a primary path. There already are many familiar forces pushing education toward this realization, including the cost of college and changing job requirements.

The way we organize and deliver educational information to high school students also must reflect this fundamental change. Schools themselves must embrace the notion that a traditional bachelor's degree is not the only definition of excellence.

To become a force for this change, to make tech prep as natural a goal as college prep, we need to deliver new kinds of information in a systematic way--tech prep information. The Oregon Career Information System (CIS), this state's designated career information delivery system, was asked several years ago to help one region with that effort. The result is a new software program called the Career Path Planner.

In September 1992, the Linn-Benton Regional Consortium, Workforce 2000 II, contracted with CIS to help it address the guidance component of a tech prep program. The objective of the original project was to create a computerized guidance tool that would help students explore and make decisions about Oregon's new career strands (Certificate of Advanced Mastery career focus areas or CAMs) and tech prep programs available in their high schools.

Specifically, during this initial development phase, the Career Path Planner was designed to:

* Provide computerized career information about the CAMs and tech prep programs available in high schools in Linn and Benton counties and the corresponding tech prep course requirements for grades nine through 14.

* Use Oregon's new CAM areas as the foundation of the tech prep guidance process.

* Be structured as a companion program to other CIS software.

* Provide a data structure so that regional tech prep consortia could enter information about tech prep programs, entrance requirements, outcomes and course requirements.

For more than two years, CIS has been working with eight tech prep regional consortia, the Oregon Department o Education's Office of Professional Technical Education and the National Office of CIS to develop this new software program. Throughout this project, the partners have recognized that they are creating a means for delivering information before that information is fully developed and often before the systems have been fully refined. Because of the massive education reform efforts being undertaken in Oregon, the Career Path Planner will remain "under development" for quite some time.

In the process, CIS is learning what information is needed and how to develop, deliver and maintain that information.

Tech prep on the menu

Career information delivery systems n (CIDS) have been refined over the last 20 a years, in most cases using clear industry standards for timeliness, comprehensiveness and objectivity.

The educational information in a state's CIDS typically is gathered through an annual school survey and careful tracking of state program approval activities. This information generally includes all accredited postsecondary programs of study that are open to the public, including program objectives, specialties, degrees conferred, sample courses and comprehensive lists of schools offering the programs. …

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