SLCs and Career Academies

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What is a Small Learning Community?

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Many high schools are using SLCs and career academies to prepare students for college, careers, and responsible citizenship.

The United States Department of Education (ED) defines a Small Learning Community (SLC) as “an environment in which a core group of teachers and other adults within the school knows the needs, interests, and aspirations of each student well, closely monitors each student’s progress, and provides the academic and other support each student needs to succeed.”

Usually teachers from different disciplines (e.g., English, social studies, science, math) work as a team to show students connections among their subjects, form a more supportive learning environment, and help students prepare for college and careers.

Some SLCs include only students from one grade level, as in ninth grade academies or houses.  Other SLCs group students from more than one grade level.

Some SLCs have themes.  Career academies are an example of SLCs with career-related themes.  SLCs also may have themes that are not related to work or careers.

Schools with federal SLC grants are asked to place all their students, grades 9-12, into such structures.  Good sources of information about SLCs are ED and Education Northwest, which has a contract from ED to provide information about and support to SLCs.


USDOE Website

Small Learning Communities, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Describes the USDOE SLC competitive grant program for high schools with over 1,000 students, including the program description, purpose, eligibility requirements, awards, related laws and regulations, FAQs, and contacts.

Education Northwest Website

Recreating Secondary Schools Program

Provides information and support for federal SLC grantees and others, including related institutes, design studios, workshops, an extensive list of publications, a calendar of events, and FAQs.


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Last modified on 3/12/2010

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