This question can be answered in two words: THEY WORK! Career academies are responsive both to the changing needs of students the global economy. They are also an answer to high school improvement.
Research increasingly supports the idea that bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to educating teenagers (or people of any age for that matter). The simple truth is that too many students are now attending “super-sized” high schools and they become lost in the mast of students. This trend promotes students being isolated, alienated, and disengaged. This, in turn, leads to school becoming boring, meaningless, and frustrating. There is no connection between what the students learn in school and what they experience in the “real” world. And this is just as likely to be true for potentially high-achieving students as it is for those at-risk of failure.
Compounding these trends is that quite often the school structure, focus, and curriculum are just as outdated as the school size. In fact, the typical American high school looks a lot like it did when the parents of today’s teens went to school: same schedule, same grading scale, same subjects, and same calendar. This system worked fine during the industrial era when one-third of students went on to college, another third found well paying jobs with a high school diploma, and even drop-outs and low achievers stood a chance of finding gainful employment.
However, that’s not the case today. It’s a new world out there. Powered by ever-changing, mind-boggling technology, today’s students enter a workplace where information is power, where jobs require highly technical skills and knowledge, where a solid education is the key to getting anywhere. Now, more than ever before, education must prepare lifelong learners who are ready to succeed in the workforce.
The good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the entire educational system to enjoy the benefits (and there are many) of career academies. It’s more a matter of redefining the high school experience. Starting right where you are, using resources you already have, and common sense ideas about the way education should be.
Thus, career academies are an idea whose time has come. In career academies across this nation, we see students who want to come to school; teachers who want to teach; and communities and employers who reap the benefits of well-prepared graduates ready to take on the world.
That’s the big deal about career academies!