Academies Make Sense!

Current discussions at the school district and proposal coming before the District 205 School Board will be considering adapting Academies for the high schools. In my earlier post, The Academy Approach to Productive Young Adults…”this concept is very good; create smaller schools; provide college AND career-preparatory curriculum for ALL students; integrate the business, post-secondary, civic and cultural communities into the school to provide much needed experience and relationships that help students prepare for a variety of options after high school.  8th graders participate in a career exploration class and then freshmen take a seminar about careers in their first year of high school.  What better way to let the youth know of possible career choices and expose them to the alternatives?  A good step.  As they progress through grades 10 – 12 they can select a “pathway” in of four industry clusters”

There is also rigorous evidence of this approach that was conducted by MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan social and education policy research organization.  In a report issued June 2008 based on a 15 year long study, Career Academies-Long Term Impact on Economic Development by James Kemple, the Key findings were:

1. The Career Academies produced sustained earnings gains that averaged 11% (or $2,088) more per year for Academy group members that for individuals in the non-Academy group – a $16,704 boost in total earnings over the eight years of follow-up (in 2006 dollars)

2. These labor market impacts were concentrated among young men, a group that has experienced a severe decline in real earnings in recent years.  Through a combination of increased wages, hours worked, and employment stability, real earnings for young men in the Academy group increased by $3,731 (17%) per year – or nearly $30,000 over eight years.

3. Overall, the Career Academies served as viable pathways to a range of post-secondary education opportunities, but they do not appear to have been more effective than options available to the non-Academy group.  More than 90% of both groups graduated from high school or received a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, and half completed a post-secondary credential.

4. The Career Academies produced an increase in the percentage of young people living independently with children and a spouse or partner.  Young men also experienced positive impacts on marriage and being custodial parents.

There are other studies that also support the Academy approach.

You can see the full presentation of the feasibility plan for academies on May 7th at the Education Committee meetings at 5 p.m. at 501 7th Street.  The proposal will be made to the School Board on May 8th at 7 p.m.

Contact a school board member at  http://www2.rps205.com/District/BOE/Pages/boe.aspx and offer your support if you want to see this happen.





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