The career academy was established in most American schools as a tool for reducing dropouts in high school and to encourage those who started with the risk of failure in school. The career academy approach can be distinguished by three core characteristics that provide direct solutions to several problems that have been manifested in high schools, especially the schools in low-income societies, and students that have a higher risk of school failure.
To begin with, students stay in high school for around four years in the career academy. This is called the ‘school-within school’ career academy, which is aimed at providing a conducive learning place for the students. Then, a career theme is created where students integrate their vocational and academic learning aspects. Lastly, the career academy creates an affiliation with employers to give students workplace training and also learning that is meant to nurture their careers (Maxwell & Rubin, 2000).
The impact of career academies on students can be compared by looking into the performance of students who had access and those that were not able to access the programs. The academies advanced the communication aspects of students in the schools. Also, it improved the students’ participation in career awareness activities and work-based activities that can be learned. Secondly, career academies improved high school outcomes in reducing the chances of dropouts.
It improved attendance as many students avoided absenteeism. It also increased the number of students taking a particular course and improved the chances of them getting enough credits and graduating on time. Third, the academies increased vocational learning among students without interrupting the basic core academic curriculum (Maxwell & Rubin, 2000). This promoted the likelihood of students graduating on time. Fourth, by reducing the rate of dropouts, it improved the schools’ engagement for higher risk and medium risk students. On the other hand, the academies did not advance the grades that students achieved in their achievement tests. A full study sample showed that career academies made a slight reduction in school dropouts.
In an analysis of students in academies and non-academies, so many differences were experienced by the two groups in high school. These differences include; academy students were able to receive more support from either their teachers or their peers than the non-academy students. Academy students were also able to access the field-related experiences, for example, work-based learning, and this was done either in the classroom through practices or having field trips.
In assessing the outcome of the students in academics, students were classified into three subgroups that can be analyzed. These subgroups were as follows; the first was the impact on the students with a high risk of school failure that was characterized as chronic absentees who entered their study with the background of being disengaged from school after they failed. The second was the impact on the students who had a low risk of failure who appear unlikely to disengage from school. Finally is the impact on the students with medium risk. The last subgroup represented about fifty percent of students in the study sample (Maxwell & Rubin, 2000).
Student Test Scores and Firing/Rehiring of Teachers
Student test scores should not be used as the determinant for teacher rehiring or firing, because it is not a valid reason. There are so many factors that can affect the students’ test scores, and it may lead to their failures even if their teachers have done quality work that deserves the best scores. Every classroom is assigned a qualified teacher and should be well educated. Also, the school’s system should be able to recruit and maintain these teachers so as to do the job.
Good, systematic development and evaluation of teachers should be done so that the test score can be improved. If a policy of firing a teacher if the students get low scores in a test is established, then the teachers might put in some effort to ensure that they do not get fired. Those who do not have students who get the best scores are then fired. However, this does not mean that the outgoing teachers are the weakest and the hired ones are much better and can produce better results.
There is also minimum evidence that teachers will perform better if they are monitored and evaluated. For this reason, the student’s test scores should not be used as the determinant factor in firing and hiring teachers. This is because student test score depends on so many factors for example; student’ health during the examination period, the background of the student, and the stability of the student in terms of interest in academics.
Social Networking and Public Education
With the rapid growth of social networking, it should be used in public education because it is rapidly gaining popularity among teenagers. It can therefore be used in schools to trigger the students’ learning, and raise the test scores because this is an area where students like and can be used to reach a majority of the students. Also by use of social networking sites, teachers tend to create a good relationship between themselves and the students.
This in turn helps them interact effectively, and understand each other. For instance, the teacher can understand the needs of a student because he can freely express himself. However, the use of social sites by students can cause erosion of good morals as they can get various things from the sites that are outside academics. Teachers should therefore restrict access to various sites that can cause harm to the students. The sites should only be used for academic purposes (Joosten, 2000).
Joosten, T. (2000). Social Media for Educators: Strategies and best Practices. New York; John Wiley & Sons.
Maxwell, N. L. & Rubin, V. (2000). High School Career Academies: A Pathway to Educational Reform in Urban School Districts? New York; Macmillan Publishers.