The Career Academy in the comprehensive high school has had phenomenal growth in the United States since the first was established in 1969 as a drop out prevention program in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The movement spread to California where it flourished, indeed the only state to define career academies by legislation. Career academies now number more than 1,500 nationwide. The concept is not new, however, and traces it roots to colonial times and back to the German continuation model. Research shows that for high-risk students in career academies, drop out rates are lower, students are more engaged in the curriculum, and they continue on to postsecondary education at a higher rate than their peers in the non-academy. They also have improved job performance over their non-academy peers upon graduation. This article, based upon a doctoral dissertation, traces the evolution of the career academy to the present and presents recent literature regarding graduates' performance.



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