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Career Academies

Health Factors: Education
Decision Makers: Educators
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 1-9% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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Description

Career Academies are small learning communities within high schools that focus on specific vocational fields such as health care, finance, technology, communications, or public service. Career Academies organize academic, college preparatory, and technical education around a career theme, apply academic skills to real world problems, and offer exploratory field trips and work experience through partnerships with local employers (CCASN). 

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased high school graduation
Increased academic achievement
Improved student attendance
Increased earnings

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that Career Academies help at-risk students progress through high school and avoid dropping out (SPTW, IES WWCBlueprints). Career Academies are a type of dropout prevention program that involve school or class restructuring; such programs have been shown to increase school completion (Campbell-Wilson 2011, CG-TFR Education).

Students in danger of dropping out who enroll in Career Academies are more likely to stay in school, maintain better attendance, and earn more credits toward graduation than non-enrolled at-risk students (IES WWCYG-CA, Blueprints). Career Academy graduates appear to earn substantially more than their non-Career Academy counterparts in early adulthood. These labor market effects are especially strong among young men (Blueprints, MDRC-Career Academies), and persist eight years after program completion (SPTW).

Research indicates that effective Career Academy programs combine career advising with college visits and assistance with the college financial aid process. Researchers also recommend that programs offer professional development to teach staff and teachers how to integrate academic and career content (IES WWC-Dynarski 2008).

Career Academies combined with Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) can improve on-time graduation rates and may improve grades (RAND-Elliott 2000).

Implementation

United States

There are approximately 7,000 Career Academies nationwide (NCSL-Newcomb 2013, NCAC-Career academies). The Career Academy Support Network works closely with Career Academies in individual school districts and twenty states and supports development and improvement of Career Academies across the nation (CCASN). The National Career Academy Coalition recognizes model academies across the US, including schools recently recognized in Hawaii, Florida, Tennessee, and Arkansas (NCAC-Model academies).

The Exploring College and Career Options (ECCO) program, developed by MDRC, includes curricula, resources, guides, and professional development materials to support Career Academies (MDRC-Career Academies, ConnectEd-ECCO).

Wisconsin

Construction Career Academies are established in 6 high schools in Wisconsin: Burlington, Fond du Lac, Kimberly, La Crosse, Marshfield, and Tomah (AGC-CCAs).

Implementation Resources

ACTE-CA reports - Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE). CTE clearinghouse: Career academies and small learning communities ACTE resources, articles, and reports. Accessed on June 6, 2016
ACTE-CA resources - Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE). Career academies resources. Accessed on June 6, 2016
CCASN - College & Career Academy Support Network (CCASN). Remaking high school. Accessed on July 6, 2016
NCAC - National Career Academy Coalition (NCAC). Collaborative support and resources for existing and emerging Career Academies. Accessed on June 2, 2016

Citations - Description

CCASN - College & Career Academy Support Network (CCASN). Remaking high school. Accessed on July 6, 2016

Citations - Evidence

Blueprints - Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV). Blueprints for healthy youth development. Accessed on December 7, 2016
Campbell-Wilson 2011 - Wilson SJ, Tanner-Smith EE, Lipsey MW, Steinka-Fry KT, Morrison J. Dropout prevention and intervention programs: Effects on school completion and dropout among school-aged children and youth: A systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews. 2011:8. Accessed on April 13, 2017
CG-TFR Education - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Task Force Recommends (TFR) Education Programs to Promote Health Equity. Accessed on December 19, 2016
IES WWC - What Works in Education Clearinghouse (WWC). Find what works. Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Accessed on June 2, 2016
IES WWC-Dynarski 2008 - Dynarski M, Clarke L, Cobb B, et al. Dropout prevention: A practice guide. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), US Department of Education (US ED), Institute of Education Sciences (IES), What Works Clearinghouse (WWC); 2008. Accessed on July 7, 2016
MDRC-Career Academies - Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC). Career Academies: Exploring College and Career Options (ECCO). Accessed on June 6, 2016
RAND-Elliott 2000 - Elliott MN, Hanser LM, Gilroy CL. Evidence of positive student outcomes in JROTC career academies. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation; 2000: Monograph Report 1200. Accessed on June 2, 2016
SPTW - Social Programs That Work (SPTW). Full list of programs. Accessed on April 19, 2017
YG-CA - Youth.gov (YG), Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP). Career Academy (CA). Accessed on June 2, 2016

Citations - Implementation

AGC-CCAs - Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Wisconsin. Construction Career Academies (CCAs). Accessed on June 6, 2016
CCASN - College & Career Academy Support Network (CCASN). Remaking high school. Accessed on July 6, 2016
ConnectEd-ECCO - ConnectEd, The California Center for College and Career. Exploring College and Career Options (ECCO) curriculum. Accessed on June 6, 2016
MDRC-Career Academies - Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC). Career Academies: Exploring College and Career Options (ECCO). Accessed on June 6, 2016
NCAC-Career academies - National Career Academy Coalition (NCAC). About career academies. Accessed on June 6, 2016
NCAC-Model academies - National Career Academy Coalition (NCAC). NCAC model academies from 2010 to present. Accessed on June 6, 2016
NCSL-Newcomb 2013* - Newcomb ML, Parker E. LegisBrief: The rise of career academies. National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). 2013;21(37). Accessed on June 6, 2016

Page Last Updated

June 6, 2016

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