MDRC in the News

David Banks Wants To Bolster Career Education in NYC Schools. Here’s How.



Afua Siaw dreamed of being a pediatrician. So when it came time to pick a high school, she chose the High School for Health Professions & Human Services — a decision based largely on the school’s name.

Siaw didn’t know when she applied five years ago that the Manhattan campus boasted a career and technical education program culminating with a chance to earn a medical assistant certification. 

Her experience learning about front-line medical work turned her off to pursuing it as a career. But her school coordinated a virtual internship where she conducted survey research to help find solutions to local health disparities, sparking her interest in career possibilities beyond pediatrics…..

…..Siaw’s experience is one that schools Chancellor David Banks is hoping to replicate across the system: jump-starting students’ exposure to career options well before graduation. Urban school districts across the country have increasingly embraced career and technical education programs, also known as CTE…..

…..State-approved CTE schools are widely considered the gold standard. Those programs involve strict requirements, including industry-specific teacher certifications, periodic state reviews of school curriculums, paid work experiences, and offer the chance for a special diploma designation…..

…..But spinning up official state-approved CTE programs often takes several years and some schools have faced challenges navigating red tape. And state approval does not guarantee every element of the program will be implemented: Many CTE schools have struggled to line up paid work experiences, according to a recent report from New York University’s Research Alliance for New York City Schools [and MDRC]…..

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