Expanding the ‘Career Academy’ Concept
Into a ‘Short-Term Work Force Program’
Career Academies are the only HS reformed initiative proven success with minority males
Jacksonville must explore the potential for creating a ‘short-term program’ for adults
To train potential workers for its infrastructure jobs and for disadvantaged businesses
Established more than 30 years ago, Career Academies have become a widely used high school reform initiative
that aims to keep students engaged in school and prepare them for successful transitions to postsecondary
education and employment. Typically serving between 150 and 200 students from grades 9 or 10 through grade 12,
Career Academies are organized as small learning communities, combine academic and technical curricula around
a career theme, and establish partnerships with local employers to provide work-based learning opportunities.
There are estimated to be more than 2,500 Career Academies operating around the country.
Since 1993, MDRC has been conducting a uniquely rigorous evaluation of the Career Academy approach that uses
a random assignment research design in a diverse group of nine high schools across the United States. Located in
medium- and large-sized school districts, the schools confront many of the educational challenges found in low-
income urban settings. The participating Career Academies were able to implement and sustain the core features of
the approach, and they served a cross-section of the student populations in their host schools. This report
describes how Career Academies influenced students’ labor market prospects and postsecondary educational
attainment in the eight years following their expected graduation. The results are based on the experiences of more
than 1,400 young people, approximately 85 percent of whom are Hispanic or African-American.
1) The Career Academies produced sustained earnings gains that averaged 11 percent (or $2,088) more per
year for Academy group members than for individua