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Summary of Research on Benefits of High School Pathways that Include Academic Coursework along with CTE and other Features

Pathways that Include Academic Coursework along with CTE and other Features Provide More Benefits for Students than a CTE Sequence by Itself

Studies of career academies in 1980s and 1990s

• Career academies, usually grades 10-12, included CTE course sequence, core academic classes to meet college requirements, students scheduled as cohorts to take classes together, interdisciplinary projects, mentorships in grade 11, internships in summer before grade 12, common planning time for teachers
• Studies compared academy students with other students at the same high schools who had similar characteristics and performance in grade 9
• Attendance, credits, and grades were consistently and significantly higher for academy students than for comparison group; postsecondary education and employment outcomes also were better
• Summary available at

MDRC study of career academies 1995-2007

• Randomly assigned applicants to career academy or comparison group, to control for differences in unobserved characteristics such as motivation, ambition, etc.
• Academy and control groups both had high rates of graduation and participation in postsecondary education
• Academy students had significantly higher earnings after high school, amounting to $30,000 average difference for males over 8 years
• Final report available at

SRI study of Linked Learning 2010-2015

• Certified Linked Learning pathways in grades 9-12 offer a 4-year CTE sequence, access to academic courses for college, interdisciplinary projects, work-based learning, and student supports
• Study compared outcomes for students in certified pathways and similar students from the same districts
• Among other differences, Linked Learning students earned more credits and had higher graduation rates
• Most recent report (year 6) available at https://irvine-dot-

Studies of high school vocational education or CTE sequences by themselves, 1980s to 2015

• Nationally and in California, vocational or CTE students on average have had lower attendance, grades, and participation in postsecondary education
• Among students who do not attend postsecondary education, vocational or CTE concentrators have higher earnings right after high school, but this benefit is offset in long run by lower educational attainment
• See

Summarized 2/27/2016 by David Stern, co-founder of CCASN, and Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of California, Berkeley