SLCs and Career Academies
How do you form an SLC or Career Academy?
Implementing one of these structures in a high school requires the involvement of those with a stake in the matter, such as:
- Boards of Education, district superintendent and administrators
- High school administrators, teachers, and counselors
- Parents and students
- In a career academy, representatives of local employers and higher education
Usually a high school also follows a series of steps, including:
- Identifying teachers across two or three subjects who want to work as a team
- Developing a selection process for students
- Modifying the curriculum to allow cross-subject integration
- Adapting classroom space, acquiring needed equipment and materials
- In an academy, forming an advisory board with employer and higher education representatives, along with district and school staff members
There are some start-up costs associated with these steps, such as providing professional development for the teachers who will work as a team to orient them to their new roles and help them integrate their curriculum. There are various grants that can be sought for this (e.g.,the United States Department of Education Small Learning Community grants, and California Partnership Academy grants), although over time these costs usually moderate and the programs become part of the ongoing structure of the high school.
There are various guides and handbooks that can help in implementing SLCs, most available from the federal and state websites cited above. One of particular use in launching career academies is entitled the Career Academies Support Network's Planning Guide for Career Academies. (This and many other CASN documents are available in the pdf format from the website's Resources page.)