The Sussex Technical School District has contracted with the University of Delaware for a study that will gather data on applicants to Sussex County’s career-technical high school and help improve the admissions process and marketing.

2018 saw Sussex Tech’s largest application cohort in its history, with 802 Sussex County eighth-grade students applying to attend.

The Board of Education recently approved a no-cost contract commissioning the Institute for Public Administration to review historical data, conduct surveys of past applicants, and host community conversations to determine why students apply to Sussex Technical High School.

“We appreciate the support of the University of Delaware and our state legislators who helped create this link,” said Superintendent Stephen Guthrie. “Sussex Tech is always working to ensure that we are serving Sussex County families, students and businesses, and this information will help us do just that.”

Sussex Technical High School offers students a career-technical education focused in one of 17 technical areas, including carpentry; cosmetology; computer networking; heating, ventilation and air conditioning, automotive technologies; and health professions. Students rotate among six areas during their freshman year and then select an area of concentration for the remaining three years, often completing industry-standard workforce certifications or licensures in their field.

Under state law, eighth grade students apply to Sussex Technical High School during the state’s school choice application period. Sussex Tech uses the services of the Delaware Data Service Center to administer its blind, impartial lottery system to determine admission and waitlist rankings.

As part of its renewed focus on career-technical education, Sussex Tech recently unveiled an expansion of its Career Capstone program, which will give all seniors the opportunity to work part-time in their technical field during school hours, gaining additional hands-on experience. Earlier this year, the district also unveiled its new core statement, “Preparing Students for Their Future,” encompassing careers, college or military service.

The IPA’s research and report is expected to be completed in early 2020.