What is Giving Compass?
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Giving Compass' Take:
• High school teacher Shaun Dougherty found that students in career and technical programs at school are more likely to graduate than their peers in traditional high schools.
• Dougherty says policy changes shouldn't happen yet because the reasons behind success are still unclear. What do you think the primary factor is for increased graduation rates?
• Brookings explains more about career and technical education programs and how they work for students.
As a high school teacher in Pennsylvania, Shaun Dougherty noticed that students in career-focused programs seemed much more engaged than his other students.
To find out, Dougherty studied Massachusetts’ 36 vocational and technical high schools, where students alternate between academic coursework and full-time work in areas like auto repair, graphic design, and machine technology. What he found was striking: At those schools, students were substantially more likely to graduate high school than similar peers at typical high schools.
Career and technical programs can come with downsides, too — in particular, offering training in skills that may eventually become obsolete or devalued. But the new research bolsters the academic case for the programs, a rare education initiative that carries bipartisan imprimatur.
In addition to being 21 percentage points more likely to graduate high school, students from low-income families scored slightly higher on standardized tests. Graduation rates were also higher for higher-income students, though they did not see any test-score gains.
Other research by Dougherty has found that students in Arkansas who took several career-focused courses in one focus area are more likely to graduate than similar students who don’t. And using national data, two other recent studies found that students who took more CTE courses, particularly later in high school, were also more likely to graduate on time, compared to demographically similar students.
Still, Dougherty cautions that the positive finding doesn’t necessarily mean that policymakers should rush to expand the programs. One concern is that growing such offerings could actually train too many students for a small pool of specific jobs. Another is that it’s not clear what makes a high-quality program.
Read the full article about technical schools have high graduation rates by Matt Barnum at Chalkbeat