In the hope of boosting career academies’ standing as models of academic reform, a coalition has released a series of guidelines for those career-oriented schools-within-schools.
The “Career Academy National Standards of Practice” names 10 features of successful programs, culled from years of research and experience, its authors say. Successful academies, the standards say, should: establish well-defined missions and goals, which include preparing students for college and a career; raise students’ motivation and aspirations while in school; and encourage superintendents and principals to act as knowledgeable advocates for those programs.
Other goals include setting standards for curriculum and instruction that meet college-entrance requirements and scrupulously collecting data to measure students’ academic progress.
“We know the model can work, but only if it’s well implemented,” said Gregg B. Betheil, the senior vice president at the New York City based National Academy Foundation, a nonprofit group that supports such academies, which worked on the standards.
Career academies, which got a start in the 1960s as a way to deter students from dropping out of school, are typically organized around a particular theme or professional trade, and many rely on partnerships with employers near their schools. An estimated 2,500 such academies exist nationwide.
The standards should provide guidance to both academy officials and outside organizations that support them, Mr. Betheil said.