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Summaries of RCT Grants

Expansion of well-implemented Career Academies in California public high Schools

As background, Career Academies are small learning communities in low-income high schools, combining academic and technical/ career curricula, and offering workplace opportunities through partnership with local employers

Grant Recipients: Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation & the University of California, Berkeley

Term: 2017 –2022

Funding: $1,500,000 (including $1,165,000 to the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation and $335,000 to the College & Career Academy Support Network at the University of California, Berkeley)

Summary: As background, Career Academies are small learning communities in low-income high schools, combining academic and technical/ career curricula, and offering workplace opportunities through partnership with local employers. When evaluated by MDRC in a large, multi-site randomized controlled trial (RCT) over 1993-2008, Career Academies were found to produce a $2,500 increase in annual earnings sustained over the eight years after high school graduation – making Career Academies the only educational program for disadvantaged youth that has been rigorously shown to produce sizable gains in long-term economic outcomes.

Under this grant, the California Department of Education (CDE), in collaboration with U.C. Berkeley’s College and Career Academy Support Network (CCASN), will significantly enhance the quality of implementation of Career Academies in California by ensuring adherence to the key features of the model that MDRC and others have found effective in improving student outcomes. 406 “California Partnership Academies”(CPAs) are currently in operation in California, but full adherence to the model is uncommon as CDE data show that 80% fail to implement one or more of the model’s core elements.

Grant funds will be used to (i) bring all California Partnership Academies (serving 80,000 students at any given time) into full adherence to the model, through such activities as summer training institutes for Career Academy educators and administrators, and ongoing technical assistance in the form of conference calls, virtual meetings, webinars, and site visits; and (ii) implement a fidelity rating system for the Academies based on objective measures of model adherence that will be used to generate periodic implementation fidelity reports for LJAF and others.

Under a separate grant, LJAF is funding an RCT of the California Partnership Academies participating in this project, to determine whether the sizable effects on workforce earnings found in the earlier RCT can be successfully reproduced.

Grants

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