Career academies boost boys' earnings

Career academies combining vocational and academic classes show long-term success in improving students’ earnings, especially for males, reports an MDRC study.

Eight years after graduation, career academy participants are more likely to be employed than those who applied for academies but didn’t get in; they also earn more.

The participants were mainly Hispanic and black, and the schools had emphases including business, tourism, health care and electronics, with students enrolled for three or four years.

Eight years after high school, when most participants were about 26, the academy group had average earnings 11 percent — or $2,088 a year — higher than the control group.

“The findings show that you can make an investment in high school that has a measurable payoff in earnings well after,” said James J. Kemple, the author of the study and an education specialist at Manpower, a New York-based group that evaluates poverty programs.

“They also show that you can provide a solid foothold in the labor market without compromising a student’s capacity to go on to college,” Mr. Kemple said.

Males earned 17 percent more than the control group.

Career academy participants and those who applied but ended up in the control grup had similar rates of high school and college completion, much higher than their classmates who had no interest in career prep.

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  1. basic math says 11% better at $2,088 implies a control salary of $18,982 and an academy salary of $21,070 — while both are above minimum wage, they’re less than stellar. (given the notation about employment rates, these may also be tempered by similar salaries but different employment rates)

    the rate in the article for boys is 17 percent difference, or $3,731 per year ie control $21,947 vs. academy $25,678

    I disagree withKemple’s claim of no compromise in a student’s capacity to go to college. (although I do respect the step towards control groups in education research) a better contrast in college capacity would be the difference in college readiness and college completion between academy and general population: ie an eye towards the need to aim at higher standards for all

  2. Around these parts you’d be living in a tree with that salary, and not in the best neighborhood either. Actually I’ve never even heard of a career academy before.

  3. I teach in a career academy (California Partnership Academy Grant) and have done so for 18 years. It was the first of the smaller learning communities. We have great success with our students, especially since the California High School Exit Exam has become a requirement for graduation. Our students pass that test, first time, at 90 percent whereas the school pass rate is 57% and the district pass rate about 65%.

    I have many students return 5 to 10 years after graduation to tell me how much they used what they had learned in my classes (marketing) and used every day. Some of our students have gone on to start their own business. Those who went on to college make more than I do as a teacher. I’ve tried to talk a few into becoming teachers and they laugh when they hear my salary versus theirs.

  4. NYC Educator–I’m curious as to what teachers in your area are paid. Here in mid California our salaries start at $38K and top out at $75K.