The cluster pathway format in secondary schools offers a structured, rigorous curriculum for individuals. The six clusters recommended for secondary schools are: Arts & Humanities, Business/Marketing, Engineering/Technical, Health, Human Services, and Science/Natural Resources.
Each pathway within a cluster has two components. Professional (P) leads to a four year or more degree and Tech Prep/Skilled (S/TP) leads to an associate degree or a certificate. In the design of Tech Prep programs, the identification of the courses in a 6 year program of study becomes the significant factor. The determination of the Tech Prep curriculum requires the inter-teaming and consensus of secondary and post-secondary faculties with strong input from business and labor.
West Virginia's Seamless Curriculum Initiative
The West Virginia Tech Prep initiative provides a forum for the secondary and postsecondary levels to re-define, align, and strengthen program offerings through seamless curricula. The West Virginia definition of a seamless curriculum is a continuum of competencies which provides transition from one education level to another without unnecessary duplication. Student progression is based on the mastery of competencies to established standards.
As of January 2009, West Virginia has fifty three (53) public school systems and ten (10) community and technical colleges actively participating in Tech Prep consortia. The focus of the consortia has been the development of seamless curriculum models.
Aligning competencies at each education level led to many "ah-ha's" among educators. By following the same curricula format at both education levels, secondary and postsecondary, educational systems began discussions on mastery levels, level readiness, and course duplications and knowledge gaps.
Implementing seamless curricula lays the groundwork for educational changes. It is a vehicle to provide students with a stronger curricula foundation, increased competence levels, and career opportunities.