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What Do We Know About the Effects of School-to-Work? A Case Study of Michigan?

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Neumark, David, and Ann Allen. 2003. "What Do We Know About the Effects of School-to-Work? A Case Study of Michigan?" Journal of Vocational Education Research, 28(1): 59-84.

As states continue to develop school-to-work programs following the federal School-to-Work Opportunities Act (STWOA), a critical question regards the causal effects of school-to-work programs in achieving their goals. Rather than relying on published studies that would appear only with long lags, and which would be unlikely to focus on particular local programs that might nonetheless be effective, this paper adopts a case study approach to assembling evidence on the effectiveness of school-to-work in a particular state (Michigan) that has been at the forefront of school-to-work efforts. We set out to obtain all available evidence and information of the effectiveness of school-to-work in Michigan, based on a review of available studies often at a very local level, as well as interviews with academic and career educators and state representatives involved in school-to-work. This evidence and information is analyzed from the perspective of whether it establishes beneficial causal effects of school-to-work on student outcomes. Our case study establishes that Michigan has developed a comprehensive career preparation system that reaches many students. Nonetheless, a critical analysis of the evaluation efforts to date indicates a serious shortfall in these efforts, and an absence of solid evidence regarding causal effects of school-to-work in the handful of evaluations that have been carried out.

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