Amid keen interest in helping students, young adults, and low-wage workers build the skills necessary to succeed in a technologically advanced economy, MDRC is studying a range of programs that feature employer involvement, such as career pathways from high school into college and the workforce, work-based learning, apprenticeships, and sectoral training.
Past Successes, Enduring Challenges, and Future Considerations
Focusing on NYC’s small high schools of choice, this reflection on MDRC’s recent high school reform research considers responses to five challenges: creating personalized, orderly learning environments; assisting students with poor academic skills; improving instructional content and practice; preparing students for the future; and stimulating change in overstressed high schools.
Career pathways programs, which equip high school students with the academic, technical, and “soft” skills they need to succeed, can also help meet local employer demand for skilled workers. This issue focus introduces one such initiative that uses paid internships to help students gain a foothold in a high-wage industry.
The Case of Career and Technical Education
In the complex high school choice process, families may face an additional layer of decisions if they are considering career and technical education programs, which vary widely in their structure, content, and quality. This issue focus emphasizes the importance of providing families with clear information about how to compare them.
Since 2010, MDRC has published a series of reports from its ongoing evaluation of small, nonselective public high schools in New York City. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the study.
The Importance of Evidence
In this essay, adapted from remarks made to the Growth Philanthropy Network/Social Impact Exchange 2014 Conference on Scaling Impact, MDRC President Gordon Berlin explains why developing reliable evidence of effectiveness is critical when expanding programs to a large scale.
MDRC’s research on Career Academies, First Things First, Project GRAD, and Talent Development suggests that the twin pillars of high school reform are structural changes to improve personalization and instructional improvement.