The value of career academies to students who are not immediately college bound is well known to students who want to become part of the workforce.
At Southeast Career Technical Academy in Southern Nevada, principal Kerry Pope sends her straight A students to college, and also develops all her students to find and fill jobs that they can stick with. Clark County School District has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country, but Southeast has a 92 percent graduation rate. 51 percent of students pass Advanced Placement courses. The school has earned a bronze medal from U.S. News and World Report’s high school rankings.
“A kid doesn’t need to be academically brilliant to be a top-of-the-line kid,” says Pope. “Our kids are kind, good kids. When you give kids a choice of doing something they’re passionate about, they’re going to do well. If they’ve got to pass math to spend time in their culinary class, they’re going to step up and do it. And if we give that opportunity to all kids, our graduation rates go up.”
There are seven career academies in the school district. 44 high schools also offer technical education programs that adhere to the same assessments and standards, according to Jeanne Donadio, the director of Clark County School District’s career and technical education.
“Career and technical education provides relevancy for what they’re learning and real-world application of what they’re learning,” she says. “The (classes) usually are meaningful and relevant to the student. That engages them. They’ve got to be at school to learn.”