To help students leave high school on a path toward success in the labor market, education policymakers and practitioners often focus on improving career and technical education (CTE) opportunities in high school. Understanding the alignment between high school CTE programs and the labor market is an important step in this process. To support CTE improvement efforts, this study quantitatively assessed the alignment between West Virginia’s high school CTE programs and the labor market, with a focus on alignment to regional high-demand occupations that require moderate occupational preparation. These “high-demand study occupations” are the 20 occupations in each region of West Virginia with the largest number of long-term projected employment openings from 2014 to 2024 that require more than a high school diploma (for example, a license or work-related experience) but less than a bachelor’s degree. The study found that 70 percent of West Virginia’s long-term projected employment openings typically require some occupational preparation beyond a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree. Further, 93 percent of the regional long-term projected employment openings in high-demand study occupations were served by at least one aligned CTE program in the same region. However, students in only 53 percent of the state’s CTE programs were in a program that aligned to at least one high-demand study occupation within their region. West Virginia stakeholders can use the findings to improve their CTE system’s alignment and better prepare students for a postsecondary career. This study also serves as an example for policymakers and practitioners in other states who are interested in quantifying their CTE system’s alignment in order to make data-informed decisions.
The rapidly expanding Linked Learning approach blends career technical and college preparatory course sequence in a single high school pathway, representing the convergence of two strands of high school reform from the past thirty years. Using data from nine California districts, we examine the effect of high school Linked Learning participation on students’ early community college outcomes. This research brief uses administrative data from key California community college districts to build on previous analysis of end-of-high-school and early postsecondary enrollment outcomes for Linked Learning students which found that Linked Learning students who started high school with low levels of academic achievement were more likely than their similar peers to enroll in college. We find that Linked Learning students perform similarly to their peers during the first two years of college.
Although magnet schools were created in the 1960s to integrate schools, their policy, legal, and demographic context has changed dramatically, making it more difficult for them to integrate. As it becomes more difficult for magnet schools to integrate, other benefits, such as improved student achievement, become more important. At the same time, it is unclear how well magnet schools can improve student achievement when their ability to integrate is hindered. To examine magnet schools in a modern context, this study utilized data from one of the nation’s largest districts. The data include information for more than 400,000 students and over 100 magnet schools across seven school years (2007/2008 through 2013/2014).
The study examined student achievement by looking for improvements in math and reading scores on a standardized exam. Multiple strategies were used to address selection bias. The large sample of magnet schools enabled an examination of aspects of magnet school policies that have not been examined before. Much of the analysis is broken down by magnet type to better understand how different magnet policies influence the results. The results provide little evidence of student achievement benefits from magnet schools. Most estimates point to a null or negative effect. School-within-a-school programs seem to be the most beneficial magnet type, with evidence of achievement gains in both reading and math. There could, however, be other benefits to students from magnet schools, as the range of outcomes studied here was limited.
It has been 50 years since magnet schools were first used to address segregation in public schools. The context of magnet schools has changed dramatically during this time, raising questions about the role of magnet schools in a modern context. This study utilized data from a large urban district with more than 100 magnet schools to assess integration from magnet schools in a modern context. The results point to integration in magnet schools, but this integration comes at the cost of segregating the traditional public schools in the district. Interdistrict transfers could improve the integrative capacity of magnet schools.