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August, 2001, Vol. 124, No. 8
School-to-work programs: information from two surveys
Mary Joyce and David Neumark
In 1994, the U.S. Congress passed the School-to-Work Opportunities Act providing federally funded grants to the States and to local partnerships of business, government, education, and community organizations to develop "school-to-work systems."1 The law encouraged the States and their local partners to develop models that would work best for their particular situations. As a result, the features of school-to-work programs often vary from grant to grant and thus are difficult to describe in general terms. The Act did, however, outline three core elements that all school-to-work programs must entail:2
• School-based learning, which encompasses rigorous classroom instruction that is linked to workplace experiences and provides students with the information and skills needed to identify and prepare for promising careers;
• Work-based learning, which includes work experience, structured training, and other workplace learning experiences appropriate to students’ career interests and linked to school curricula;
• Connecting activities, which are efforts undertaken to help employers and schools forge and maintain links between the school-based and work-based components of school-to-work programs.
The general goal of the School-to-Work Act is to improve the transitions from school to work for all youths in the United States. The Act points to a "lack of a comprehensive and coherent system to help youths acquire the knowledge, skills, abilities, and information about and access to the labor market that are necessary to make an effective transition from school to work or further education."3
This excerpt is from an article published in the August 2001 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 The Act called for approximately $300 million to be appropriated for fiscal year 1995, with equal amounts being available for fiscal years 1996–99. Federal funding for school-to-work programs is scheduled to end in 2001.
2 Concise definitions of these three components were not provided in the Act. The definitions that follow were developed by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., an organization that has been involved in a large-scale study to evaluate school-to-work grants. See The First National Survey of Local School-to-Work Partnerships: Data Summary, August 1997.
3 A copy of the School-to-Work Act is available on the Internet at www.stw.ed.gov/factsht/act.htm.
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