In October 2000, the overall picture of high school dropouts had changed little since the late 1980s (Kaufman et al. 2001): For every 100 young adults enrolled in high school in October 1999, 5 had left school without completing a program; of 34.6 million U.S. young adults aged 16-24, 3.8 million—almost 11 percent—had not completed high school and were not enrolled. Some studies have shown that students in schools with a concentration of multiple risk factors (e.g., large schools, large classes, high poverty, inner city location) have less than one chance in two of graduating from high school; furthermore, the economic costs of dropping out have increased as time goes on (Castellano et al. 2001). Adjusting for 50 years of inflation, young male college graduates at the end of the 1990s earned about one and half times as much as their peers in 1949, but the young male high school dropout earned less than half as much as his counterpart.
The conventional wisdom that CTE is one solution to the problem of dropouts is made clear in one statewide evaluation of STW (Schug and Western 1999). In telephone interviews, most randomly selected school district curriculum directors reported a belief that STW had beneficial effects on student outcomes like high school completion, but all 45 agreed that there was not reliable information on achievement, attendance, or completion rates. Another statewide study (Brown 2000) noted that state systems for collecting and reporting Tech Prep outcomes were poorly developed, perhaps because they were not required in the Tech Prep Education Act (Title III-E of Perkins II). So it would seem that the question remains: Is CTE one solution to the dropout problem or not?
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... the Balance: An Analysis of High School Persistence, Academic Achievement, and Postsecondary Destinations. St. Paul: National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, University of Minnesota, 2001. (ED 461 721) http://www.nccte.org/publications/index.asp
Publications and Materials: Case Studies. Atlanta, GA: High Schools That Work, Southern Regional Education Board, n.d. http://www.sreb.org/programs/hstw/publications/pubindex.asp
Schug, M. C., and Western, R. D. School to Work in Wisconsin: Inflated Claims, Meager Results. Report 12, No. 1. Milwaukee: Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, 1999. (ED 427 246)
Stern, D.; Dayton, C.; and Raby, M. Career Academies: Building Blocks for Reconstructing American High Schools. Berkeley: Career Academy Support Network, University of California, 2000. (ED 455 445) http://casn.berkeley.edu/buildingblocks.html
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