Howard Ho


This study focused on how career academies were implemented at a large, urban, public high school. Research shows that the career academy model should consist of 3 core components: (a) a small learning community (SLC), (b) a theme-based curriculum, and (c) business partnerships (Stern, Dayton, & Raby, 2010). The purpose of this qualitative case-study was to examine how the academy model was implemented and its impact on the 2 existing career academies at a comprehensive high school. The researcher collected data by utilizing a variety of methods such as surveys, interviews, observations, and analysis of artifacts. All career academy teachers at the site participated in the survey and focal academy teachers were purposively selected based on their academy teaching experience and a willingness to participate in interviews and observations. Finally, academy artifacts were analyzed in the process of data triangulation. Findings indicate that small learning communities have a positive impact on building relationships; academy teachers must be well supported by administration; and that business partnerships are critical to career academies. Findings from this study support several conclusions about the implementation of 2 career academy models: a) Both academies successfully implemented Small Learning Communities that led to more camaraderie within the academies, b) Teachers were not provided with the necessary training to integrate theme-based curriculum, and c) Business partnerships were nonexistent due to the lack of internship and job-shadowing opportunities provided for academy students. Study outcomes recommend that only academy students should be enrolled in academy classes and academy teachers must be carefully. Academy teachers should have a common planning period and must be provided with initial training and ongoing professional development. Academies should form a steering committee consisting of representatives from businesses and post-secondary education. Finally, more collaboration must exist between academies and business partners. Implemented properly, the career academy could be a highly effective model to provide students with a 21st century learning experience. Although 2 of the 3 components of the academy model require immediate attention, findings indicate that proper teacher professional development and access to business partnerships may lead to more conducive learning environments and collaborative spaces.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational leadership, administration and policy; Career academies -- California; School-to-work transition; Curriculum planning; Education, Secondary -- California; High school teachers -- Training of

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Collatos, Anthony;