Introduction to the Advanced Technical Credit (ATC) Program

Purpose of Articulation

Articulation agreements are developed between secondary and postsecondary institutions in order to provide non-duplicative, sequential programs of study for students that link high school and college instruction. Tech Prep educational programs, or 6-year plans, are program-level articulation agreements. Course-to-course articulation agreements grant college credit to students who have acquired occupational competencies from high school courses that are equivalent to those acquired in entry-level college technical courses. Such course-to-course agreements are frequent components of articulated Tech Prep programs.

Proliferation of Course-level Articulation Agreements

Although course-to-course articulation agreements have been in place for some time, implementation of Tech Prep programs, and the accompanying emphasis on articulation, resulted in a proliferation of locally-developed course-level agreements outlining a variety of policies and standards for the award of college credit for courses taken in high school.

These local agreements vary widely in their format, content, and methods to document fulfillment of the provisions of the agreement. Agreements are often between single postsecondary institutions and single school districts, and many cover individual courses without regard to their sequential relationship to other courses in a student’s articulated program of study.

There has been little consistency among these locally-developed course agreements, either regionally or statewide, in the alignment of high school and college course content, expectations of high school courses, and expectations of college courses, although statewide these agreements cover many of the same high school and college courses.

Because students frequently do not know they are enrolled in an articulated course, few take advantage of course articulation in college, and fewer still understand the concept of an articulated program of study.

The effort to develop and maintain articulation agreements for courses within Tech Prep programs, as well as articulation agreements for Tech Prep programs (6-year plans), has produced a paperwork and process burden for participating independent school districts and public two-year postsecondary institutions.

The Texas Education Agency process for the identification of articulated courses on a high school transcript (“A” code), currently designated only for use on high school transcripts for articulated courses in state-approved Tech Prep programs, is not well known and inconsistently applied.

Clearly, uniform and effective processes to encourage participation in articulated programs of study, to facilitate the award of postsecondary articulated credit, and to promote student retention in related postsecondary workforce education programs must be implemented for the future success of these articulated programs.


The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), in coordination with the Texas Education Agency (TEA), funded the development of statewide procedures that streamline and standardize the articulation process for individual courses and reduce associated paperwork.

Developed by a statewide committee of secondary school and college representatives with input from state staff, the ATC Standard Articulation Agreement and Statewide Articulation Guide establish procedures for the award of postsecondary credit for commonly articulated technical education courses.

More importantly, they contribute to a system that allows students across the state to benefit from articulated high school courses and promotes participation in articulated high school and college workforce education programs.

The Advanced Technical Credit (ATC) Program – Statewide Articulation

The statewide articulation process is based on the development, publication, and maintenance of course crosswalks that contain a list and detailed description of courses that meet specific criteria for articulation determined by state-level content alignment committees.

Students who meet established guidelines for successful completion of courses listed in the course crosswalk at any public secondary school in Texas may present their transcripts to any public two-year associate degree-granting institution in the state that is participating in statewide articulation and that offers the corresponding college course(s). The public two-year associate degree-granting institution awards the corresponding college credit for courses noted with the “A” code and with the unique course abbreviation for ATC courses that end in “-TP.”

Statewide articulation allows local institutions to focus their efforts on the development and implementation of effective articulated programs of study, rather than the development and maintenance of course-level articulation agreements for commonly articulated courses.

Statewide articulation is a four-part process that includes:

  1. Development of the ATC Standard Articulation Agreement that outlines statewide standards for the award of college credit by articulation for specific entry-level technical courses;
  2. Development of course crosswalks composed of college WECM course descriptions cross walked with the articulated high school course(s), as well as sample Tech Prep 6-year educational plans, through the statewide articulation process;
  3. Development of standardized information for teachers on statewide articulation for dissemination during local joint secondary and postsecondary curriculum development and evaluation activities and state-approved professional development activities; and
  4. Dissemination of information to students, parents, teachers, counselors, administrators and trustees for effective implementation.

ATC Standard Articulation Agreement

The ATC Standard Articulation Agreement provides a uniform approach to the award of college credit across the state for commonly articulated technical courses.

The Agreement is to be used in conjunction with course-specific criteria outlined by statewide Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)/Workforce Education Course Manual (WECM) curriculum alignment committees for courses identified for statewide articulation. These courses and criteria for articulation will be published on the ATC website (

The primary purpose of statewide articulation is to eliminate the need for duplicative institution-to-institution and course-to-course articulation agreements for specific, commonly articulated, courses selected for articulation statewide, and to facilitate the use of articulated credit by students enrolled in workforce education programs in colleges across the state.

ATC Statewide Articulation Guide

The Guide outlines a procedure for the uniform development and maintenance of course-specific criteria for courses based on, at a minimum, course content and student competence standards outlined in the WECM.

These activities are initially carried out by statewide TEKS/WECM curriculum alignment committees with grant projects funded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in coordination with the Texas Education Agency. Course alignments will be reviewed and updated regularly by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s ATC and WECM Maintenance Committees.

Local Articulation Agreements

Secondary schools and colleges participating in the ATC Program may develop additional articulation agreements for high school and college courses NOT listed in the course crosswalk as long as the participating institutions adhere to the requirements for such agreements outlined in the Guidelines for Instructional Programs in Workforce Education (GIPWE – Part I, 2003) and (GIPWE – Part II, 2001), and Chapter 9, Subchapter H.

Institutions are strongly encouraged to base the development of local articulation agreements on the provisions of the ATC Standard Articulation Agreement.

Joint Professional Development Activities

Standard information on the ATC Program and the statewide articulation process have been developed for dissemination locally during annual, joint secondary/postsecondary curriculum development and evaluation activities. These activities may be provided by Tech Prep consortia, community and technical colleges, and regional education service centers.

Presentation of standard information during annual curriculum development and alignment activities will help assure that instruction in high school articulated courses meets minimum competencies outlined in the WECM and consistent application of statewide articulation guidelines, and will address issues such as high school faculty turn-over and promotion of student participation in articulated programs of study leading to the associate degree.

For more information, refer to the section on state-approved professional development activities.

Dissemination of Information on Statewide Articulation

To ensure success of the statewide articulation effort, information will be disseminated through a variety of publications and activities to public school and college teachers, counselors, administrators, and trustees. Ultimately, information will reach parents and students so they can make informed decisions about their future careers and take advantage of the articulation process.