Career Academies

The National Career Academy Coalition describes career academies as follows: “High school career academies date back over forty years and have been a growing presence in the country for the last quarter century, notably in the states that have provided grants for them (CA, FL, AR) and the many cities and districts that have embraced the approach. There are an estimated 7,000 career academies in operation, enrolling about one million students. Career academies are designed to prepare students for both college and careers. They are schools within schools that link students with peers, teachers, and community partners in a structured environment that fosters academic success. The career academy concept has three key elements:

  • A small learning community (SLC)
  • A college-prep sequential curriculum with a career theme
  • An advisory board that forges partnerships with employers, higher education institutions, and the community

Teams of teachers (grades 9–12 or 10–12) work across several academic and technical subjects, grouping students into cohorts for these classes and follow a program of study. The advisory board helps to identify a sequential set of experiential components that show students the applications of academic subjects to the career and college field and deliver work-based learning experiences (e.g., shadowing, community service, mentoring, internships, and apprenticeships). While career academies have grown quickly, for the most part, they have spread in a grassroots fashion. Thus, there are many interpretations of what a career academy is and what a high-quality career academy should look like, as well as many instances where the term “career academy” is used to describe other configurations.”


Reseda High School has the Police Academy Magnet as a small learning community within the school. Students wear police-like uniforms with a curriculum which integrates that integrates law enforcement into some courses. Physical training is part of the curriculum each semester for four years. And there is a teaching staff that stays constant for the four years students are in the academy.