College & Workforce Readiness Explainer


By Education Week Staff — September 21, 2004 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Faced with their first job or first year in college, some high school graduates realize they were not quite prepared for the practical application of their school work-or for the interpersonal relations at work or in postsecondary classes.

Educators nationwide are confronting this problem by introducing school-to-work or school-to-career programs to make the transition easier. School-to-work introduces high school students to a range of career options. The programs aim to make the work environment less daunting and more of an active learning environment.

School-to-work cannot solve all that ails schools. When implemented successfully, though, it can help students make connections between what they learn and life beyond the classroom. Ideally, school-to-work also broadens how content is taught, asking that teachers also make links between content and the “real world.” School-to-work programs ideally include school-based learning, work-based learning, and connecting activities. School-based learning is the classroom instruction that prepares students for work, while work-based learning is the actual on-the-job experience. Connecting activities include mentoring and other initiatives that provide a link between school and work.

Critics say school-to-work programs force schools to cater to an industry’s needs for workers, thereby limiting students’ educational options too early. They charge that the laws reflect dangerous and potentially expensive federal and state intrusion into education, which they feel should remain a local and family matter.

But proponents say such fears are unfounded. They contend that a good school-to-work program strengthens academics while helping students make connections between school and work, increasing students’ motivation and focus throughout high school. Supporters also deny that work-based learning will irrevocably slot middle or high school students into future jobs. Instead, they say, such programs give youths skills that are transferable to any job. And employers’ increased confidence in the competence of the future workforce cannot be underestimated.

Related Tags:

How to Cite This Article
Education Week Staff. (2004, September 21). School-to-Work. Education Week. Retrieved Month Day, Year from

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

College & Workforce Readiness Opinion What Will It Take to Get High School Students Back on Track?
Three proven strategies can support high school graduation and postsecondary success—during and after the pandemic.
Robert Balfanz
5 min read
Conceptual illustration of students making choices based on guidance.
Viktoria Kurpas/iStock
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion An Economist Explains How to Make College Pay
Rick Hess speaks with Beth Akers about practical advice regarding how to choose a college, what to study, and how to pay for it.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says College Enrollment Dip Hits Students of Color the Hardest
The pandemic led to a precipitous decline in enrollment for two-year schools, while four-year colleges and universities held steady.
3 min read
Conceptual image of blocks moving forward, and one moving backward.
College & Workforce Readiness Letter to the Editor How We Can Improve College-Completion Rates
Early- and middle-college high schools have the potential to improve college completion rates, says this letter to the editor.
1 min read