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Improving School-to-Work Transitions

Improving School-to-Work Transitions

David Neumark Editor
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Improving School-to-Work Transitions
    Book Description:

    As anxieties about America’s economic competitiveness mounted in the 1980s, so too did concerns that the nation’s schools were not adequately preparing young people for the modern workplace. Spurred by widespread joblessness and job instability among young adults, the federal government launched ambitious educational reforms in the 1990s to promote career development activities for students. In recent years, however, the federal government has shifted its focus to test-based reforms like No Child Left Behind that emphasize purely academic subjects. At this critical juncture in education reform, Improving School-To-Work Transitions, edited by David Neumark, weighs the successes and failures of the ’90s-era school-to-work initiatives, and assesses how high schools, colleges, and government can help youths make a smoother transition into stable, well-paying employment. Drawing on evidence from national longitudinal studies, surveys, interviews, and case studies, the contributors to Improving School-To-Work Transitions offer thought-provoking perspectives on a variety of aspects of the school-to-work problem. Deborah Reed, Christopher Jepsen, and Laura Hill emphasize the importance of focusing school-to-work programs on the diverse needs of different demographic groups, particularly immigrants, who represent a growing proportion of the youth population. David Neumark and Donna Rothstein investigate the impact of school-to-work programs on the “forgotten half,” students at the greatest risk of not attending college. Using data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Study of Youth, they find that participation by these students in programs like job shadowing, mentoring, and summer internships raise employment and college attendance rates among men and earnings among women. In a study of nine high schools with National Academy Foundation career academies, Terry Orr and her fellow researchers find that career academy participants are more engaged in school and are more likely to attend a four-year college than their peers. Nan Maxwell studies the skills demanded in entry-level jobs and finds that many supposedly “low-skilled” jobs actually demand extensive skills in reading, writing, and math, as well as the “new basic skills” of communication and problem-solving. Maxwell recommends that school districts collaborate with researchers to identify which skills are most in demand in their local labor markets. At a time when test-based educational reforms are making career development programs increasingly vulnerable, it is worth examining the possibilities and challenges of integrating career-related learning into the school environment. Written for educators, policymakers, researchers, and anyone concerned about how schools are shaping the economic opportunities of young people, Improving School-To-Work Transitions provides an authoritative guide to a crucial issue in education reform.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-426-2
    Subjects: Business, Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Chapter 1 Improving School-to-Work Transitions: Introduction
    (pp. 1-23)
    David Neumark

    An array of programs, policies, and institutions in the United States attempts to improve the transitions of youths from school to work. These components of the educational system have taken a back seat in the past decade to educational reform focused on measurable academic outcomes, as reflected in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). However, a key criterion for assessing educational quality is whether education enhances labor-market success. Although there is a link between test scores and socioeconomic success, it is doubtful that a focus on testing and academic preparation encompasses all of what schools do to...

  5. Chapter 2 Transitions to Work for Racial, Ethnic, and Immigrant Groups
    (pp. 24-58)
    Deborah Reed, Christopher Jepsen and Laura E. Hill

    The youth population of the United States is becoming increasingly diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and nativity. Although U.S.-born, non-Hispanic whites remain the majority group, their share fell from 75 to 61 percent between 1980 and 2000 and is expected to fall to 55 percent by 2020. More than 10 percent of youths are immigrants and nearly one in four has a foreign-born parent.¹

    The diversity of the youth population is of tremendous importance in designing and evaluating school-to-work programs, policies, and institutions that focus on improving work transitions and outcomes, such as those formerly funded under the federal...

  6. Chapter 3 Participation in Career and Technical Education and School-to-Work in American High Schools
    (pp. 59-86)
    James R. Stone III and Oscar A. Aliaga

    During the late 1970s and early 1980s, at a time when the U.S. economy was seen as not competitive with respect to other major industrial countries, concerns were voiced about the quality of the public education system. Critics of public education linked the quality of public schools to the perceived economic problems of the day and argued that improving the quality of schools was critical to future economic competitiveness. Spurred by reports such asA Nation at Risk(Gardner 1983), states and federal legislators then sought to fix what was perceived to be a poorly performing education system. Different educational...

  7. Chapter 4 Do School-to-Work Programs Help the “Forgotten Half”?
    (pp. 87-133)
    David Neumark and Donna Rothstein

    The 1994 federal School-to-Work Opportunities Act (STWOA) provided around $1.5 billion to support increased career-preparation activities in the country’s public schools.¹ The STWOA was spurred by a concern that youth labor markets in the United States entailed unnecessary periods of joblessness, excessive job instability, and employment in dead-end jobs (U.S. General Accounting Office 1990). The act aimed to help young people develop the skills needed in the workforce and make better connections to careers through school-to-career transition systems, which fostered partnerships among schools, employers, and others (U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment 1995).

    The “findings” on which the STWOA was...

  8. Chapter 5 Learning by Doing Career Academies
    (pp. 134-168)
    David Stern, Christopher Wu, Charles Dayton and Andrew Maul

    For a number of years, we have been helping high schools and districts that are attempting to create or improve career academies—hence our title: “Learning by Doing Career Academies.”⁴ Our assistance includes developing the schools’ capacity to keep track of results for students by relying mainly on information that is ordinarily available from student transcripts. We believe it is essential for schools themselves to continuously gauge results of career academies and other educational programs, because even if such programs have been found to be effective somewhere, they are unlikely to be effective everywhere. Therefore, one of our aims here...

  9. Chapter 6 The National Academy Foundation’s Career Academies: Shaping Postsecondary Transitions
    (pp. 169-209)
    Margaret Terry Orr, Thomas Bailey, Katherine L. Hughes, Gregory S. Kienzl and Melinda Mechur Karp

    The career-academy model—a school-within-a-school, career-focused high school program of study often with related work experience—has spread rapidly throughout the United States since the mid-eighties, in large part because educators and policymakers believe it to be a promising approach for encouraging better academic achievement and facilitating students’ transition to college and careers. Learning to what extent well-designed career academies deliver on this promise is the focus of this chapter.

    As defined in chapter 5 of this volume and other sources, career academies generally include school-based and work-based components, make use of an industry-themed, contextualized curriculum, have a paid summer...

  10. Chapter 7 Labor-Market Linkages Among Two-Year College Faculty and Their Impact on Student Perceptions, Effort, and College Persistence
    (pp. 210-246)
    Ann E. Person and James E. Rosenbaum

    Schools are the main institutions preparing young people to enter productive roles in society. To support the assumption that schools respond to labor-market needs, many scholars refer to human-capital and functionalist theories. Even critics who disparage such responsiveness believe that it occurs (Bowles and Gintis 1976). Nonetheless, at the high school level research has produced little evidence to indicate how this correspondence might take place. Indeed, until recently the general observation has been that high schools and employers do not have much to do with each other (Lortie 1975; Useem 1986). Dan C. Lortie (1975) notes that the teaching role...

  11. Chapter 8 Smoothing the Transition from School to Work: Building Job Skills for a Local Labor Market
    (pp. 247-282)
    Nan L. Maxwell

    Moving from school into the labor market is often a difficult transition for youths. Even though many high school students work for pay while still in school, they often spend the years after leaving school moving from one job to another. The long-term effect of this churning is indeterminate. Some research argues that early unstable labor-market experience per se either is unrelated to labor-market outcomes as an adult (Gardecki and Neumark 1998) or is beneficial (Becker and Hills 1980, 1983), if appropriate skill matches ensue (Osterman 1980). Other research points to harmful long-term results from this sort of floundering, finding...

  12. Index
    (pp. 283-296)