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Improving School-to-Work Transitions

David Neumark

Publication Year: 2007

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.

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

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Chapter 1. Improving School-to-Work Transitions: Introduction

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pp. 1-23

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...

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Chapter 2. Transitions to Work for Racial, Ethnic, and Immigrant Groups

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pp. 24-58

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...

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Chapter 3. Participation in Career and Technical Education and School-to-Work in American High Schools

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pp. 59-86

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...

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Chapter 4. Do School-to-Work Programs Help the “Forgotten Half”?

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pp. 87-133

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...

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Chapter 5. Learning by Doing Career Academies

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pp. 134-168

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...

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Chapter 6. The National Academy Foundation’s Career Academies: Shaping Postsecondary Transitions

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pp. 169-209

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...

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Chapter 7. Labor-Market Linkages Among Two-Year College Faculty and Their Impact on Student Perceptions, Effort, and College Persistence

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pp. 210-246

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...

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Chapter 8. Smoothing the Transition from School to Work: Building Job Skills for a Local Labor Market

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pp. 247-282

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...


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pp. 283-294

E-ISBN-13: 9781610444262
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871546425
Print-ISBN-10: 0871546426

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2007