An assessment of Tech Prep: Students' educational and psychosocial outcomes in a case study model

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education


Vincent Tinto


English, Tech Prep, Educational, Psychosocial

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education


This exploratory study combines aspects of a qualitative case study with quantitative comparisons of some educational and psychosocial student learning outcomes for a panel of Grades 11 and 12 students in a suburban Rochester, New York high school. Students prepared in an applied Technical Preparation (Tech Prep) English sequence are compared with a cohort prepared in a standard pedagogy General English sequence.

The 1990 Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Act created special funding for Tech Prep, a combined secondary and postsecondary vocational program. Federal block grants to the states flowed to local Tech Prep consortia consisting of high school and community college partners. Tech Prep was designed to be a curricular reform for students in the middle two quartiles. The goals of Tech Prep were to enhance basic skills acquisition, enhance career awareness, and increase students' interest in postsecondary education and training. Mandated research and assessment of Tech Prep reported bureaucratic and descriptive aspects of Tech Prep consortia and programs. Very few studies focused on student learning outcomes.

This panel study tested and surveyed Tech Prep and General English students at the beginning of Grade 11 and the end of Grade 12. The educational variables compared included reading comprehension and sentence skills as measured by ACCUPLACER ® , performance on the New York State English Regents Exam, placement in college or remedial level English, attendance, and dropout graduation rates. ACCUPLACER ® is a computer-adapted basic skills software package used in this study. The panel study also compared the psychosocial outcomes of intent to enroll in postsecondary education, self-esteem, satisfaction with education, and leadership. No significant differences were found between the Tech Prep and standard pedagogy General English students for any variable.


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