Changing Birmingham Al high schools to career academies

In the past 30 years, Career Academies have become a very popular type of school reform in the United States. It is estimated that there are currently more than 2500 Career Academies across the country. If high schools in Birmingham, Alabama make the switch, they stand to enjoy many benefits from the new educational concept.

Post-secondary preparation

Career Academies aim to graduate highly capable students that can thrive in a post-secondary academic environment. They do this by organizing themselves as small learning communities with greater focus on individual students. In one study by the MDRC, it was shown that some 90 percent of students graduated from their Career Academies and of them more than half completed a post-secondary credential. These are the kinds of statistics that the Alabama educational system is greatly in need of.

Transitions to employment

One of the primary missions of Career Academies is to centralize their high school studies around a particular career theme, such as engineering. This allows the Career Academy to form partnerships with local businesses that wish to hire graduates with this type of preparation. Also, many of these businesses can offer some work-based learning experiences for the students. These experiences can be essential in providing students the types of experiences and working relationships they need to succeed in today’s challenging workplace.

Labor market improvement

After completing the curriculum of a Career Academy, it is expected that the student will have much better labor prospects upon graduation than if they had attended a normal high school. The expected benefit is that students of a Career Academy should know more about particular businesses and business in general upon graduation. In another study by MDRC, Career Academies significantly improved the labor market prospects of their graduates. Career Academy graduates earned a total of 18% more than those graduates of a normal high school over a four year period following graduation.

With the reported graduation rate of high school students in Alabama hovering around 60%, they are greatly in need of reform. Career Academies can offer exactly the type of post-secondary and labor force preparation that Birmingham’s students need to be successful upon graduation. The experiences in academics, as well as business, well do a much better job of preparing them to make a smoother transition into the work force. Career Academies seem to offer just the spark that the Alabama educational system needs.