SLCs and Career Academies

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What is a Career Academy?

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A career academy is an SLC that has a career theme, shows students links between their academic subjects and this theme, and involves employers and higher education institutions in preparing students for college and a career.

Several organizations that work nationally to provide support to career academies have agreed on a set of ten standards by which to define and gauge the quality of these programs, called the Career Academy National Standards of Practice.

A career academy usually operates in grades 9-12 or 10-12, and includes two or three academic subjects each year along with one career related one. The latter is usually a “Career-Technical Education” (CTE) course. It may be offered through the high school, the Regional Occupation Program (ROP) system, or a local community college. Career academies encourage students to go to both 2- and 4-year colleges.

There are many career fields that can be used as a focus for a career academy.  Popular examples include “Health Services”, “Media & Communications” and “Business, Finance & Marketing”.  In the most commonly used taxonomy of industries, 16 such fields have been identified; California uses a similar one with 15 such fields. The national Career Clusters project provides definitions and examples of careers for each of the 16. California has developed both standards and curricular frameworks for the 15 CTE fields.

The CTE course sequence from one grade level to the next builds a set of knowledge and skills that qualifies the student to move into a post-secondary program in that field. Examples of such sequences are contained in a guide produced by the Career Academy Support Network (CASN): Course Sequences for Career Academies. (This and many other CASN documents are available in pdf format from the website's Guides and Articles index, in its Resources section.)


Course Sequences for Career Academies

Shores, K., Markham, T., Lenz, R., Fender, E. Career Academy Support Network, UC Berkeley, Graduate School of Education; 2003.

Examples of course sequences through high school in many career fields, drawn from successful academies around the country.

Video Vignettes of Exemplary Academies

California Partnership Academies; students and teachers; 2010.

Ten short videos that highlight key features of academies, produced by students of California Partnership Academies.

Career Academy National Standards of Practice

Coalition of national agencies concerned with career academies; 2004.

Ten broadly agreed upon categories, each with several standards, that provide a comprehensive definition of a high quality career academy.


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Last modified on 2/2/2011

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