Term of Award

Fall 2007

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Charles Reavis

Committee Member 1

Deloris Liston

Committee Member 2

Walter Polka

Committee Member 3

Mac Brinson

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine the experiences of high school individuals in implementing and sustaining Career Academies in a large comprehensive high school. The Career Academy is a high school reform model that integrates school-to-work elements in a personalized learning environment. The Career Academy structure provides partnerships between high schools and employers to enhance students' exposure to career development and work-based learning opportunities. The Career Academy model has proven to be a successful reform initiative for keeping students in school and positively impacting their post-secondary outcomes. Success is dependent of the contingent on the full implementation including a strong curriculum and instruction component. The researcher gathered information by using the qualitative method to examine the experiences of how one large high school implemented and sustained Career Academies. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with individuals from one high school involved in the successful implementation and sustenance of Career Academies. A case study narrative format was used to document the experiences of individuals involved in the implementation and sustenance of Career Academies. 2 Three conclusions can be drawn from the results of the study. First, high school leaders must have a clear reason for implementing Career Academies. The administrators and teachers in the study are focused on educating all students by providing a challenge integrated curriculum and establishing relationships that prepare them for life beyond high school. Secondly, there must be buy-in to the implementation of Career Academies. The Board of Education and district was supportive to implementing Career Academies. Professional development needs to be continuous and ongoing as improvements and adjustments are made steady implementation. Lastly, the structure and support of Career Academies must be a priority for effectiveness of the initiative. Career Academies do require additional work and, therefore, entail additional expense. Teachers must meet on a regular basis as a team to develop integrated curriculum, coordinate employer involvement, and organize links to college and other postsecondary options for students.

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