Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Effectiveness of career academies: A quantitative study on career academy participation and its relationship to student achievement and engagement
by Kwong, Eugene W., Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2010, 177; 3425185
Abstract (Summary)

The academic demands of No Child Left Behind have narrowed the curriculum and much of the teaching and learning is centered around performing on standardized tests. Many students are meeting these demands while others are slowly disengaging from the school creating the potential for dropping out. A curricular reform, called the career academy, was introduced in the 1970s to help keep students in school by focusing on vocational education and preparing students for entry-level jobs and skilled labor. Over the years, these entry-level jobs have evolved to include technical skills, and many require more than a high school diploma.

The career academy model has evolved to incorporate an integrated vocational and academic curriculum, small learning community structure, and partnerships with local businesses to help students make the transition from school to work. Review of the literature on career academy effectiveness suggested positive effects on student engagement and mixed effects on academic achievement for students participating in career academies.

The purpose of this study is to examine differences in student achievement and engagement between career academy and non-academy students. This quasi-experimental study utilized statistical controls for prior academic achievement in order to estimate the effects of academy participation with greater precision. Therefore, the statistical control will account for the varying initial achievements of students and the removal of the variance attributed to initial achievement allows the researcher to estimate the impact of career academy participation.

The findings in this study suggest that low achieving students participating in career academies have significantly higher academic achievement than low achieving non-academy students. These results suggest the career academy model is beneficial to some students. Career academies can appeal to a wide variety of student interests and provide an alternative to the traditional academic curriculum by allowing students to integrate their learning of vocational skills with academic content. Additionally, students participating in career academies have the opportunity to complete the academic requirements needed to graduate from high school and qualify for postsecondary education.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Symcox, Linda
School: California State University, Long Beach
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 71/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational tests & measurements, Curriculum development, Vocational education
Keywords: Career academies, Curriculum, Quantitative, Statistical control, Student achievement, Vocational education
Publication Number: 3425185
ISBN: 978-1-124-25941-3
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