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Career Academies and Urban Minority Schooling: Forging Optimism Despite Limited Opportunity (2002)

This qualitative case study focuses on 80 urban minority high school students enrolled in two California Career Academies, paying close attention to the cultural and institutional processes that impact their achievement. This study argues that, despite urban inequality, the Career Academy model fosters optimism among low-income minority students. However, students’ experiences differ within each academy context. Some Career Academy structures are able to promote positive student relations, whereas others simply reflect the status quo. This phenomenon is primarily due to an uneven recruitment process, the resulting student population of each academy, and the differing Career Academy cultures and institutional mechanisms. This study suggests that Career Academies constitute a potentially successful school reform strategy, despite their limitations.

Gil Gonchas, Professor and Director of the College and Career Academy Support Network (CCASN), University of California Irvine

Patricia Clark, Director of Teaching and Learning at the College and Career Academy Support Network (CCASN), University of California Berkeley 

Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 7(3), 287-311

Copyright 2002, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.