School-to-Work: Making a Difference in Education

Welcome to the Institute on Education and the Economy (6692 bytes)
IEE Logo (4965 bytes) For Immediate Release:

February 2, 2001

For Information Contact:

Katherine Hughes
IEE, Teachers College
(212) 678-3818

Ed Grocholski
(202) 452-9475


New Report from Teachers College, Columbia University Shows Business/Education Partnerships, Such as School-to-Work Initiatives, Impact Student Performance

Research Indicates Initiatives Such as Job Shadowing Do Make a Difference

New York, NY -- As millions of young people shadow working professionals as part of the Fourth Annual Groundhog Job Shadow Day on February 2, there is a new consensus of research that indicates School-to-Work activities, such as job shadowing, which involve business/education partnerships, do make a difference for students. This is according to a report just published by the Institute on Education and the Economy (IEE) at Teachers College, Columbia University. The report, entitled School-to-Work: Making a Difference in Education, analyzed the wealth of studies that focus on the evaluation of School-to-Work (STW) initiatives. The report is the most comprehensive compilation of research examining the effects of recent STW efforts and serves as a status report on indicators of the success of STW initiatives.

The report found that many studies show participation in STW supports academic achievement in a variety of ways, including reducing the dropout rate and increasing college enrollment. Career Academies in particular, which link corporate involvement to secondary school education and foster small learning communities, are cited as an effective model. The report found that STW contributes significantly to students' career preparation, through exploration activities and work-based learning experiences that teach students skills that are useful in careers. These activities help students think about and plan for the future, including college. The findings also indicate that participation in STW helps students mature and develop psychologically as they gain increased knowledge of the importance of school.

"We are very encouraged by all the positive results we found in our comprehensive look at the research. Business/education partnerships really show promise in giving students opportunities that many wouldn't otherwise have, and in motivating students to learn," said Katherine Hughes, Senior Research Associate for IEE.

The National School-to-Work Opportunities Act was enacted in 1994 to act as a venture capital fund for education. The goal of the Act has been to identify successful community-based initiatives at the local level and provide the resources necessary for their continued growth and expansion.

In addition to the STW benefits to students, STW research indicates that teachers and employers are also enthusiastic about STW programs, according to the report. The report also concluded that even the most rigorous studies of STW initiatives have turned up almost no negative results of the STWOA. Although critics of the STW approach to education feared it would weaken academic achievement and divert students to low-skilled jobs, there is no evidence to support this position among STW studies.


One of the first major initiatives of the Clinton administration to address concerns about the quality of education and its effect on the economy, the NSTWOA passed with bi-partisan support and was signed by President Clinton in 1994. The Act provided "venture capital" funding to states and local communities to support efforts aimed at increasing student achievement and preparing young people for postsecondary education and careers. Funding for STW is scheduled to expire in October 2001. School-to-Work activities include work-based experiences such as student internships and job shadowing. Also included are teacher "externships" into businesses, where educators get a chance to see what happens in a company and incorporate their work-related insights into their lesson plans.


School-to-Work: Making a Difference in Education is based on a compilation of a comprehensive bibliography of all studies conducted to evaluate STW initiatives in the United States. The group of studies varied in their methodologies but contain equally useful information about STW initiatives.

About the IEE, Teachers College, Columbia University

The Institute on Education and the Economy (IEE), established in 1986 by the Board of Trustees of Teachers College, Columbia University, is an interdisciplinary policy research center that focuses its attention on the interaction between education and the economy. The foundation of this focus was articulated in The Double Helix of Education and the Economy, written in 1992 by the Institute's former and current Directors, which analyzed the relationship between changes in the economy and the need for a fundamental rethinking of our educational system. The Institute is directed by Thomas Bailey, a labor economist trained at MIT and a professor of economics and education at Teachers College. IEE conducts a rigorous program of research and policy analysis and provides intellectual leadership on the implications of changes in the economy and labor markets for all levels of our education and training systems. To achieve its objectives, the Institute has mobilized a broad range of research talent and disciplinary perspectives, including economics, anthropology, sociology, political science, education and cognitive science.

Full Report in PDF Format

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