University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Career Readiness: In Arkansas & Beyond

In The View from the OEP on May 14, 2014 at 11:36 am

CTEIn anticipation for our conference tomorrow (Diplomas, Certificates, and Degrees: Helping Arkansas Students Find Their Ideal Careers), we are releasing a new policy brief: Career Readiness: In Arkansas & Beyond.

In the policy brief, we examine international and national approaches to career and technical education (CTE), including the German model of dual education. In the United States, historically, the purpose of vocational education in the U.S. was to prepare students for entry-level jobs that required less than a baccalaureate degree. However, during the 21st century, there has been a shift towards broader preparation for students that blends academic, vocational and technical skills. Today, CTE also encourages high school students to continue on and pursue post-secondary education.

logo_smallIn Arkansas, an important development in the Natural State has been the use of the “academy model.” While this is not the only approach to Career and Technical Education being used in Arkansas, it an area that has gained momentum in recent years and is producing some widespread changes in the way that secondary education is being approached. logoIn the policy brief, we focus on the Career Academy model and spotlight Springdale High School and Mountain Home High School.

Additionally, in the policy brief, we examine rigorous research conducted on the career academy model by MDRC. Key findings from MDRC’s evaluations include:

  • Academy students had higher earnings: The career academies produced sustained earnings gains that averaged 11 percent (or $2,088) more per year for academy group members than for individuals in the non-academy group — a $16,704 boost in total earnings over the eight years of follow-up (in 2006 dollars).
  • Male earnings were especially higher: Through a combination of increased wages, hours worked, and employment stability, real earnings for males in the academy group increased by $3,731 (17%) per year or nearly $30,000 over eight years.
  • No difference in graduation rate/post-secondary attainment: More than 90 percent of both groups graduated from high school or received a GED, and half completed a post-secondary degree.
  • Positive social effects for males: Young men in the academy group experienced positive impacts on marriage and being custodial parents.

In the past few weeks, we have released other policy briefs spotlighting programs in Arkansas and around the nation that set up students for post-secondary success. If you have not already, be sure to check them out: New Tech Schools in Arkansas, Early College High Schools, and EAST Initiative: An Arkansas Idea Worth Spreading.

We have have learned a lot from digging deeper into these programs that are impacting students in Arkansas – and we are excited to see how these programs spread! Moreover, we are excited to discuss these programs and others at our conference.

Don’t forget: our conference is tomorrow (Thursday, May 15th) at 8:00 am at the Clinton Center. See you there!

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