SLCs and Career Academies

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How many SLCs or Career Academies should a high school have?

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There are two schools of thought. Some experts believe that the most effective and fairest approach is to restructure the entire high school around these. Others feel it works better to have one or a few but not make them school-wide.

An advantage of the school-wide approach is that it allows all students to obtain whatever advantage may derive from being in an SLC. It also reduces the likelihood of SLCs becoming magnets for a certain type of student, either high or low performing, and thus becoming stigmatized.

On the other hand, there are often at least some students (and families) who don’t like the idea of being grouped with a subset of teachers and students, often ones who want high level course options (e.g., AP and/or IB) so they can meet competitive college entry requirements. In addition, SLCs seem to work better for some than others. Forcing everyone into these structures can create backlashes and hard feelings among some teachers and students.

Two documents that explore these options more fully are Small Learning Communities: Lessons from the Field and  Implementing Career Academies Schoolwide: Four Case Studies. The first reviews the experience of Berkeley researchers who evaluated 25 high schools in ten districts with federal SLC grants. The second offers case studies of four high schools that implemented career academies schoolwide. (These and many other CASN documents are available in the pdf format from the website's Resources page.)

Resources

Small Learning Communities: Lessons from the Field

Dayton, C., Clark, P., Tidyman, S., Hanna, T. Career Academy Support Network, UC Berkeley, Graduate School of Education; 2007.

Based on evaluations of 25 high schools with federal SLC grants, this guide describes key SLC features, and related system needs, support structures, & evaluation practices, with an eye toward common problems and how they have been addressed. lessons_from_the_field.pdf (200.34KB)

Implementing Career Academies Schoolwide: Four Case Studies

Stern, D., Dayton, C., Lenz, R., Tidyman, S. Career Academy Support Network, UC Berkeley, Graduate School of Education; 2001.

Descriptions of four high schools moving toward school-wide SLCs, focused on SLC structural issues, curriculum, and related work-based learning. schoolwide_200010-02-18-12-01-01.pdf (163.49KB)

 

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Last modified on 12/13/2010

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