Model Program

Career Academy

High School Initiatives Office, CA Dept. of Ed
1430 N. Street, Suite 4503
Sacramento, CA 95814

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Contact Information:
Bernie Norton

Program Specification:






Strong Evidence of Effectiveness

Age/Grade Level:

Target Settings:

Target Groups:

High School




Other Participation Criteria:

All Ethnicities


A Career Academy is a school within a school that links students with peers, teachers, and community partners in a disciplined environment, fostering academic success and mental and emotional health. Originally created to help inner-city students stay in school and obtain meaningful occupational experience, academies and similar programs have evolved into a multifaceted, integrated approach to reducing delinquent behavior and enhancing protective factors among at-risk youths. These academies enable youths who may have trouble fitting into the larger school environment to belong to a smaller educational community and connect what they learn in school with their career aspirations and goals.

Program Descriptors Include:
Academic Improvement, Alternative Education, Attendance/Truancy, Behavior Management/Discipline, Career Education, Mentoring/Tutoring

Starting Date: Unspecified
Students Served Per Year: 50-250
Last Verified: 2009

Risk Factors:

Protective Factors:

Program addresses the following:

Individual factors

  • Low achievement
  • Misbehavior

Family factors

  • Low socioeconomic status

Community factors

  • Family composition/socioeconomic status

Program promotes the following:


  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Opportunities and rewards for pro-social involvement
  • Perception of support from adults and peers


  • Social competencies
  • Self efficacy


  • Problem-solving skills

Program Resources:

Annual Cost:

The annual cost range of the program is $500 - $1000 per student.

Funding Sources Include:

Program Staff Includes:



Materials Used:

Supporting / Partner Organizations:



Evaluation Information:

Those with the highest fidelity to the Career Academy program design were the most effective. A number of studies have been carried out on these programs, some with longitudinal data, and most found positive results on students. One experimental study of nine programs carried out over a six-year period found that the program had the strongest impact on high-risk students and compared to the control group, these students were less likely to drop out of school, had better attendance and earned more course credits.

How evaluation data was collected:
Outside experimental studies