WWC review of this study

Building bridges to life after high school: Contemporary career academies and student outcomes.

Hemelt, S. W., Lenard, M. A., & Paeplow, C. G. (2019). Economics of Education Review, 68, 161-178. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2018.08.005

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    469
     Students
    , grades
    9-12

Reviewed: December 2021

At least one finding shows strong evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Academic achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

ACT Composite score

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

-1 Years

Full sample;
423 students

24.37

24.50

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

ACT Composite

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

-1 Years

Low-performing students;
137 students

20.95

20.47

No

--
College enrollment outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

College enrollment within one year of graduation

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
469 students

90.70

87.00

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

College enrollment within one year of graduation

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Low-performing students;
156 students

85.40

84.00

No

--
College readiness outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Scoring 3 or greater on the AP Math or Science exam

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

-1 Years

Full sample;
469 students

30.40

28.00

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Scoring 3 or greater on the AP Math or Science exam

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Low-performing students ;
156 students

10.90

14.00

No

--
General Literacy Achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

ACT Reading score

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

-1 Years

Full sample;
423 students

24.49

24.17

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

ACT Reading score

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

-1 Years

Low-performing students;
137 students

21.33

19.96

No

--
General Mathematics Achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

ACT Mathematics score

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

-1 Years

Full sample;
423 students

25.79

25.95

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

ACT Mathematics score

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

-1 Years

Low-performing students;
137 students

21.82

21.72

No

--
High School Completion outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

High Shool Graduation

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
469 students

96.50

90.00

Yes

 
 
25
 
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

High School Graduation

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Low-performing students;
156 students

93.10

90.00

No

--
Industry-recognized credential, certificate, or license outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Earned "Microsoft Office Specialist" Certification

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

-2 Years

Full sample;
469 students

38.90

20.00

Yes

 
 
21
 
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Earned "Microsoft Office Specialist" Certification

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

-2 Years

Low-performing students;
156 students

39.70

17.00

Yes

 
 
26
School attendance outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Number of days absent in 9th grade

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

-3 Years

Full sample;
469 students

2.59

3.78

Yes

 
 
8
 
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Number of days absent in 9th grade

Career Academies vs. Business as usual

-3 Years

Low-performing students;
156 students

3.06

4.99

No

--

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 36%
    Male: 64%
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    North Carolina
  • Race
    Asian
    10%
    Black
    5%
    Other or unknown
    6%
    White
    79%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    3%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    97%

Setting

The study was conducted during school years 2009-2010 to 2012-2013 at Apex High School’s Academy of Information Technology (AOIT), a career academy in Wake County, North Carolina.

Study sample

The full study sample consists of four cohorts of 9th grade students accepted into AOIT. Just over a third (36%) were female, 79% were White, non-Hispanic, 10% were Asian, non-Hispanic, and 5% were Black, non-Hispanic. Three percent (3%) were Hispanic. No students were English learners.

Intervention Group

Students enrolled in AOIT participated in a technology-based paid internship, a four-year sequence of IT courses/electives in either programming or multimedia/web design, cohort-based grouping with fellow AOIT students, and soft-skills training throughout the four-year program. Students also received non-academic supports for job searching, such as resume preparation and mock interviewing.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison condition experienced the traditional high school curriculum which does not include a work-based learning component, non-academic supports, or 12th grade course requirements. IT courses were available for students in the traditional high school on a limited basis.

Support for implementation

No information was provided about implementation support.

 

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