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Career and Technical Education - Diverse Options for Your Teen

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By Rebecca B. Evers, Ed.D.

The Perkins Act: Provisions for Students with Disabilities

The primary legislative act that governs all career and technical programs is the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006. This legislation includes the provision of the "Tech Prep" programs. The primary difference between Tech Prep and other career technical classes is that Tech Prep programs must include the following elements:

  • An articulation agreement between secondary and postsecondary consortium participants
  • A two-plus-two-year program (secondary plus postsecondary) or a two-plus-four-year program
  • A common core of academic study in math, science, communication and technology program
  • Containment within a specifically Tech Prep curriculum
  • Joint in-service training of secondary and postsecondary teachers to effectively implement the program across settings

Students who successfully complete a high school Tech Prep program can move directly from high school to a community college or four-year college to complete their career and technical education.

The provisions of the Perkins Act ensure that your teen with learning disabilities has equal access to any career or technical program he chooses. Information about career and technical programs in your school district is available from school counselors, special education transition specialists, and on school district or state board of education websites. For additional information about the Perkins Act, state and local career and technical programs, and school-to-work or post-secondary education transition planning, see "Resources."

Other purposes of Tech Prep programs are to provide academic instruction in the classroom with on-the-job learning and training experiences in high-skill, high-wage, or high-demand occupations; for example: health (nursing, dentistry), computing and communications (programmer, personal computer technician), or construction (carpenter, electrician). Finally, the Tech Prep programs should be integrated into career and technical programs when possible.5

Implementation of this act is the responsibility of local public school systems with oversight by the state departments of education who report state efforts and results to the U.S. Department of Education. If you are concerned that your local school is not meeting your teen's needs in regard to offering career and occupational training or Tech Prep programs, contact the local school district office.

Listed below are a number of provisions in the Perkins Act that are important to students with disabilities and apply to high school and community college career and technical programs.

  1. "Special populations" must be included in the students admitted to career and technical programs; special populations are defined to include students with disabilities.
  2. Students and parents must be provided access to career guidance and academic counseling regarding career awareness, planning for occupational and academic future, and information about career options, financial aid, and postsecondary options, including baccalaureate degree programs.
  3. Students should have access to student organizations that engage in career and technical education activities as an integral part of the instructional program.
  4. Schools are required to provide a Tech Prep program that accepts students with disabilities. This provision is made because Tech Prep and career and technical programs are two distinct programs, and not all career and technical classes are part of a Tech Prep program. So this provision assures that students with disabilities will be admitted to all classes in both programs.
  5. Schools are required to hold career and technical programs accountable for student success and progress by establishing performance indicators for programs. All career and technical programs must report on whether students, including students with disabilities, reach yearly goals related to the academic and technical skills. Reporting of this information is required by both the No Child Left Behind Act and the Perkins Act. The assessment data flows from the local school, through state departments of education, to the U.S. Department of Education.

Comments from readers

"Great article! The author mentioned culinary arts as one area in family and consumer sciences where students can prepare for a lifelong career. However, foodservice is just one segment within the broader field of hospitality management, which includes hotel and resort operations, special events and attractions, meetings and conventions, spas, country clubs, and casinos, as well as travel and tourism. Together, these fields account for approximately 10% of the world GDP. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides information about the 'leisure and hospitality supersector' at the following URL: The California State University offers information about high-level careers and education programs hospitality management at While this site provides information about CSU degree programs only, the requirements and curricula of these programs are typical of what students can expect in any hospitality management degree program. In the interests of full disclosure I will say that I currently serve as the program coordinator for the CSU hospitality management education initiative, whose mission is to provide an uninterrupted supply of hospitality leaders in California. However, within the field there is a prevailing ethos be hospitable by helping anyone with in interest to accomplish all that they can. If the information in either of the above sites can help prospective students and their parents determine if a career in hospitality would be a good fit, I will have done my job today. "
"hi i am nadia 15 years old and i am pregnant and i would like to kno if i could continue my school or if there is a high school were i could antend and take care of my baby at the same time i would also like to kno if there is a high school made for girls like me and study for a career while trying to graduate from high school if there is so please write back i will so apreciate it i really want to continue studying thank you"