Eight-year findings on Career Academies — a popular high school reform that combines academics with career development opportunities — show that the programs produced sustained employment and earnings gains, particularly among young men. Career Academy participants were also more likely to be living independently with children and a spouse or a partner.
Career Academies produced substantial and sustained improvements in earnings of young men after high school, without limiting opportunities to attend college.
The New York City public school system is the largest in the United States, with over 1,200 schools and more than 1.1 million students enrolled each year. For more than a decade, it has also been the site of an unprecedented investment in high school reform.
Making the successful transition to adulthood had become increasingly challenging for disadvantaged young people. Two changes in the labor market have contributed to this trend. First, the rise in demand for higher skilled workers, while increasing the payoff to college, has resulted in declining real wages for less-educated workers.
About two-thirds of high school dropouts continue their education and obtain a high school credential within eight years of their scheduled graduation date. The majority obtain a General Educational Development (GED) certificate rather than a high school diploma.
Career Academies were first developed some 35 years ago with the aim of restructuring large high schools into small learning communities and creating better pathways from high school to further education and the workplace. Since then, the Career Academy approach has taken root in an estimated 8,000 high schools across the country.