High School Career Academies: A Pathway to Educational Reform in Urban School Districts?

High School Career Academies: A Pathway to Educational Reform in Urban School Districts?

High School Career Academies: A Pathway to Educational Reform in Urban School Districts?

High School Career Academies: A Pathway to Educational Reform in Urban School Districts?

Excerpt

The current educational reform movement known as school-towork calls for restructuring America’s high schools to become “high performance” arenas of achievement. Programs developed under this rubric have at their core a curriculum that integrates academic and vocational courses to provide a labor market context for learning. These school-to-work reforms are designed to increase students’ motivation to achieve academically and to better prepare them for employment or for higher education. Such reforms necessitate a restructuring of schools that encompasses virtually every operational aspect. The creation of “schools within schools” and the adoption of techniques for contextualized learning are often merely starting points for a total revamping of schools in order to increase student achievement.

It is too soon to fully assess how much long-term impact school-towork reforms will have. Certainly, proponents of school-to-work approaches are making a sincere effort to radically change and improve an educational system whose basic design was set in an era in which high schools were attended only by a select few. Of course, critics argue that school-to-work reforms are not the solution to current problems. This book represents one small effort at examining one schoolto-work program—career academies—to determine the potential of this approach for achieving significant educational reform.

PURPOSE

This book grew out of our experiences in evaluating, researching, and providing consultation for a particular form of educational change, the high school career academy. Career academies represent a type of school-to-work educational reform that has been implemented widely. As they are poised to move from pilot projects and small innovations to broader acceptance and implementation in many cities, a study of the structure and impacts is timely.

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