Small learning communities in low-income high schools, combining academic and technical/ career curricula, and offering workplace opportunities through partnership with local employers.
The Career Academies in the study summarized in our full evidence summary operate within large high schools in low-income, urban areas, and have three distinguishing characteristics:
- They are organized as small learning communities (150 to 200 students) to create a more supportive, personalized learning environment;
- They combine academic and career and technical curricula around a career theme; and
- They establish partnerships with local employers to provide career awareness and work-based learning opportunities for students.
Each Academy typically focuses on a specific field (e.g., health care). Students are recruited to attend, and then must submit an application. Approved applicants enter a Career Academy in 9th or 10th grade, and are taught by a single team of teachers through grade 12.
The per-student cost of Career Academies varies widely depending on the specific features of the school. One estimate is that, in California, a high school operating a three-year Career Academy (grades 10-12) incurs an additional cost of approximately $789 per Career Academy student, per year in 2017 dollars.