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. An analysis of four Career Academies in California found that the high schools operating these Academies incurred total additional costs that ranged from approximately $3,800 to $7,600 per Academy student over the course of their three- or four-year Academy participation (in 2017 dollars).